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Germany's High Sea Fleet 
in the World War 


Admiral Scheer 

• tf « • 

o • • • • 

• • • • • . 

• • • * 

«w# * «« « » 

With a Porfraft an<f Tweniy-eighi PUuts^"-- -' "-'^ •''■-■'• 

London, New York, Toronto and Melbourne 



• • 

• • 

*• • • 
• • • 

• » 

• • 

• • • •" 

.• • 

• • • • 


THE victor has the privilege of writing the story ot the war ; for 
one mistrusts the vanquished, because he will try to palliate and 
excuse his defeats. But we are^'victors and vanquished at one and 
the same time/' and in depicting our success the difficult problem 
confronts us of not forgetting that our strength did not last out to 
the end. 

Exceptionally tragic is the fate of our Fleet. It embodied the 
sense of power resulting from the unification of the Empire, a sense 
which was conscious of its responsibility to provide for the suitable 
security of our immensely flourishing political and economical ex- 
pansion. By creating a fleet we strengthened our claim to sea- 
power, without which the Empire must wither away, we remained 
a thorn in the side of the British, and their ill-will was the constant 
accompaniment of our growth. The freedom of the seas, which 
we strove for in line with our evolution, England was never 
willing to grant, even if it had to come to a world-war on the 

In the four years' struggle which Germany waged against the 
desire of its enemies to destroy it, the Fleet was able, beyond all 
tareigti expectations, to hold its own, and what is more, it was our 
conduct of the naval war that succeeded in forcing the stubborn 
enemy to the brink of destruction. But, nevertheless, we have lost 
the war, and with the surrender of the German Fleet the expectations 
of an independent shaping of our destiny have vanished for long 

To the history of the naval war, as it presented itself to me 

and was for some years carried on under my guidance, this book 

will add a contribution. I should like, however, along with the 

description o{ my war experiences, to give the assurance to the 

' German people that the German Fleet, which ventured to boast of 



being a favourite creation of the nation, strove to do its duty, and 
entered into the war inspired only by the thought of justifying the 
confidence reposed in it and of standing on an equal footing with 
the warriors on land. The remembrance of the famous deeds which 
were accomplished on the sea will henceforth preserve over the 
grave of the German Fleet the hope that our race will succeed in 
creating for itself a position among the nations worthy of the German 


Weimar, September, 1919. 






The First Two Years of the War to the 
Battle of the Skagerrak 


1. Ths Outbbsak of War 8 

2. Relatitb Stbenoths and the Strategic Situation , 18 
8. Awaiting the Enemy's Offensive . . . , 26 

4. The English Break into the Heugoland Bight 42 

5. The Autumn and Winter Months of 1914 . 57 

6. Bombardment of Scarborough and Hartlepool, and 

THE Battle of the Dogger Bank .... 67 

7. The Year of the War 1915 87 

8. Preparations for Increased Fleet Activity .96 

9. Enterprises in the Hoofden,* and Bombardbcent of 

Yarmouth and Lowestoft 118 


From the Battle of the Skagerrak to the 
Unrestricted U-boat Warfare 

10. The Battle of the Skagerrak 188 

11* After the Battle 174 

12, Airship Attacks 208 

• <• The Hoo£den ** is a Germaa torm applied to the area of the North Sea that lies 
helow the latitude of TencheUiag. 





The U-boat Campaign 


18. The Miutaby and Political Sigmihcakce of thb 

U-BOAT Campaign 215 


15. AcnviTT OF THE Fleet dubino the U-boat Campaign 280 

16. The Conquest of the Baltic Islands and the Captube 

OF Helsingfobs 295 

17. OuB Light Cbaft in Action, and Advance of oub Fleet 


JLS^HE Navt Command 824 

Conclusion 858 

Index 868 

Folding Plans 

The Expedition against Sundebland, August 18-20, 
1916 Facing p. 180 

Plan of the Minefield in the Geeman Bight 288 



THE origin of the world-war lies in the oppositicm between the 
Anglo-Saxon and the German conceptions of the world. On the 
former side is the claim to the position of unrestricted primacy in sea- 
power, to the dominion of the seas, to the prerogative of ocean- 
trade and to a levy on the treasures of all the earth. "We are the 
first nation of the world " is the dogma of every Englishman, and 
he cannot conceive how others can doubt it. 

English history supplies the proof of the application — ^just as 
eneigetic as incon^derate — of this conception. Even one of the 
greatest eulogists of the English methods in naval warfare — ^which 
best reflect English history — the American, Captain Mahan, made 
famous through his book, '* The Influence of Sea Power upon 
History," characterises it in his observations on the North American 
War of Independence, which ended in 1783 : " To quote again the 
[French] summary before given, their [the Allies — ^America, France 
and Spain] object was ' to avenge their respective injuries, and to 
put an end to that tyrannical Empire which England claims to 
maintain upon the ocean/ The revenge they had obtained was 
barren of benefit to themselves. They had, so that generation 
thought, injured England by liberating America; but they had not 
righted their wrongs in Gibraltar and Jamaica. The English fleet 
had not received any such treatment as would lessen its haughty 
self-reliance, the armed neutrality of the Northern Powers had 
been allowed to pass fruitlessly away, and the English Empire over 
the seas soon b^:ame as tyrannical and more absolute than ever.*' 
Still, England has in process of time understood how to create 
an almost universal recognition ot its claim. Its whole policy, based 
on the authority of its Fleet and the favourable situation of the 
Briti^ Isles, has always been adapted to the principle that all 
that may contribute *ai majorem gloriam Britanniae'^ is of ad- 
vantage also to the prc^ess <^ mankind. 

The principal feature of the English character is markedly 
materialistic and reveals itself in a striving for power and profit. 
The commercial spirit, which animates the individual Englishman, 
colours the political and military dealmgs of the whole people. Their 


claims, to themselves a matter of course, went so far always that they 
never granted advantages to another, even if their utilisation was 
not possible to themselves at the time, but might perhaps be so 
later. That has manifested itself most clearly in the Colonial sphere. 

The edifice of English world-importance and might has rested 
for a hundred years on the fame of Trafalgar, and they have care- 
fully avoided hazarding it. They have besides, with skill and 
success, left untried no means of accentuating the impression of 
power and using it. What we should consider boastful was to the 
British only the expression of their full conviction and an 
obvious means to their end. In support of this we may mention 
such expressions as: "We have the ships, we have the men, we 
have the money, too," as well as ships* names, such as Irresistible, 
Invincible, Inaomitable, Formidable, and many others* 

This method, fundamentally, is really as the Poles asunder from 
ours, but still it does not fail to leave an impression on many 
Germans owing to its pomposity and the customary embroidery of 
commonplaces about promoting the happiness of mankind. 

On the opposite side Prussia — Germany I Its whole history filled 
with struggle and distress, because the wars of Europe were carried 
on by preference on its territory. It was the nation of the Cate- 
gorical Imperative, ever ready for privations and sacrifices, always 
raising itself again, till it seemed at last to have succeeded through 
the unification of the Empire in being able to reap the fruits of its 
hard-won position of power. The victory over the hard times it 
had to pass through was due to its idealism and to its tried loyalty 
to the Fatherland under the oppressions of foreign rule. The 
strength of our defensive power rested above all things on our 
conscientiousness and thoroughness acquired by strict discipline. 

In contrast to the inaccessibility of the English island-position 
was our Continental situation in the heart of Europe, in many re- 
spects without natural defence on the frontiers. Instead of having 
wealth pouring in from all quarters of the globe, we had to toil in 
the sweat of our brows to support our people on the scanty native 
soil ; and yet we succeeded, in defiance of all difiiculties, in elevating 
and advancing in undreamt-of fashion the economic statxis of the 
people while at the same time effecting their political unification. 

In such a situation and after such experiences, schemes of con- 
quest were utterly absent from the minds of the German people. 
They sought to find satisfaction for their need of expansion in peace- 
ful fashion, So as not to hazard lightly their hard-won position of 


power. That we should be regarded as an ujiwelcome intruder in 
the circle of nations who felt themselves called upon to settle the 
fate of Europe and the world was due, apart from the deeply- 
wounded vanity of the French, to the mistrust of the British, to 
whose way of blinking our harmlessness appeared incredible. 

In order to retain our position and to ensure the maintenance of 
our increasing wealth we had no other choice than to secure the ability 
to defend ourselves according to the old-established principle of the 
Wars of Liberation : by efficiency to compensate for what was lacking 
in numbers. How could we establish armies superior to those of our 
neighbours otherwise than by efficiency ? 

iWith the same fundamental motive we turned to the building- 
up of our sea power, as, owing to the increased dependence of our 
Administration on foreign countries and to the investment of vaster 
sums in German property on and oversea, pur development 
unquestionably required protection. 

The intention imputed to us of wishing to usurp British worlds 
power never existed; our aims were much more simply explained 
by the provisions of the Navy Bills of a limited number of ships, 
which nowhere approached the English total. Nevertheless England 
considered herself threatened and saw in us a rival who must at 
any cost be destroyed. That this sentiment prevailed over there 
lay indeed less in the fact of the appearance of a sea Power of the 
second rank in a corner of the North Sea far removed from the 
world-oceans, than in the estimate of its worth. They foresaw the 
exercise in it of a spirit of progress which characterised the German 
nature, by which England felt herself hampered and prejudiced. 

It is not disputed that through our fleet-construction a sharper 
note was introduced into our relations with England than would 
have resulted from peaceful competition alone, but it is not a 
just judgment, nor one going to the foundation of the German- 
English relations, if the disaster of the world-war or even of the 
unsuccessful result of the war is attributed simply to the building 
of the German Fleet. To that end it is necessary to consider the 
justification of our fleet-building and the reasons why the war was 
lost and what prospects existed for us of winning it. In that way 
we shall recognise the decisive r61e which fell to naval power 
after this struggle of nations grew into a world-war through 
England's accession to the side of Russia and France. 

The mere apprehension of falling out with England could not 
and dare not form ground for refusing to such an important part 


of our national wealth as had accumulated in the undertakings bound 
up with our sea interests the necessary protection through a fleet, 
which the townsman, dependent on inland activities, enjoyed in the 
shape of our army and accepted as quite a matter of course. 

The Empire was under an obligation to support and protect in 
their projects the shippers and merchants who undertook to dispose 
of the surplusage c^ our industrial enei^y in foreign lands 
and there establish new enterprises bringing profit to Germany. 
This connection with overseas was securing us universal benefit in 
so far as, by its means, the Homeland was enabled to employ and 
to feed all its inhabitants, so that, in spite of the great increase of 
population, emigration was no longer required as a safety-valve for 
the surplus man-strength. What the maintenance of the man- 
strength of a country means when converted into work, the last ten 
years and the war-years have shown us quite remarkably. 

It is expected of every small State that it should make whatever 
efforts lie in its power to justify a claim to consideration of its in- 
dependence. On this is based the guarantee, won in the international 
life of peoples with the advance of civilisation, that the weaker will 
not unjustifiably be fallen upon by the stronger. 

The conduct of a Great Power which left its sea-interests with- 
out protection would have been as unworthy and contemptible, as 
dishonourable cowardice in an individual; but it would have been 
most highly impolitic also, because it would have made it dependent 
on States more powerful at sea. The best army we could create 
would lose in value if Germany remained with the Achilles-heel of 
an unprotected foreign trade amounting to thousands of millions. 
Although the purpose of our competition on a peaceful footing 
followed from the modesty of our colonial claims, our policy did 
not succeed in removing England's suspicion ; but, considering the 
diversity of the claims of both peoples, having its roots in their 
world views, all the art of diplomacy could not have succeeded in 
so far bridging over the antagonisms that the recourse to arms 
would have been spared us. 

Was there perchance still another method of creating^ for our- 
selves the necessary protection against attacks at sea, which did 
not bear the provocative character that in England was attributed 
to the building of our High Sea Fleet? Just as the desire for a 
German Fleet had for a long time been popular, so has the average 
German had little idea of the meaning of sea jiower and of its 

practical application. This is not to be wondered at, in view of the 




complete absence of national naval war-history. It will hence be 
necessary, in order to answer the question whether we chose the 
suitable naval armament for the condition of affairs in which the new 
Germany saw itself placed, to enter somewhat more closely into 
the peculiarities of naval warfare* 

It has been held as an acknowledged axiom, proved from war- 
history, that the struggle at sea must be directed to gaining the 
mastery of the sea, i.e. to removing all opposition which stands in 
the way of its free and unhindered use. 

The chief resisting strength lies in the «nemy Fleet, and a 
successful struggle against it first renders possible the utilisation of 
the mastery of the seas, for thereupon one's own Fleet can go out 
with the object of attacking the enemy coasts or oversea possessions, 
of carrying out landings or preparing and covering the same on a 
larger scale (invasion). FinaHy, it can further shut off the enemy 
by means of a blockade f r<Mn every sort of import from overseas and 
capture his merchant-ships with their valuable cargoes, until they 
are driven <^ the open sea. Contrary to the international usage 
in land warfare of sparing private property, there exists the principle 
of prize-right at sea, which is nothing more than a relic of the 
piracy which was pursued so vigorously in the form of privateering 
by the freebooters in the great naval war a hundred years ago. 

The abrogation of the right of prize has hitherto always been 
frustrated by the opposition of England, although she herself pos- 
sesses the most extensive merchant-shipping trade. For she looks 
for the chief effect of her sea power to the damaging of the enemy's 
sea-4rade. In the course of time England, apparendy yielding to the 
pressure of the majority of the other maritime States, has conceded 
limitations of the blockade and naval prize-rights— with the mental 
reservation, however, of disregarding them at pleasure — which suited 
the predominant Continental interest of these States. It deserves 
especially to be noticed that England has held inflexibly to this 
rigtit to damage enemy (and neutral) trade because she was 
convinced of her superiority at sea. When our trade-war began, 
unexpectedly, to be injurious to the island-people they set all the 
machinery possible in motion to cause its ccmdemnation. 

It is pos^ble in certain circumstances for the less powerful 
maritime States, according to position, coast<^ormation and ocean 
traffic, to protect themselves at their sensitive and assailable points 
by measures of coast-defence. 

/With us this eoufse has found its zealous champions, first on 



account of cheapness, partly from a desire not to provoke the 
more powerful States, and finally on the ground of strategical 
considerations which lay in the same direction as those of the jeune 
ecole in France. The idea was to check an opponent by means of 
guerilla warfare and through direct attack on enemy trade, but the 
only result of the jeune icole in France has been that the French 
Navy has sunk into insignificance. A system of guerilla warfare 
remains a struggle with inadequate means, which does not guarantee 
any success. England rightly did not at all fear the cruiser- 
war on her shipping trade, otherwise she would have given way 
on the question of the naval prize-right. As regards coast defence, 
we did not consider that policy, as it could not hinder the English 
from harming us, while it in no way aiGfected them, seeing that 
our coasts do not impinge on the world-trafiic routes, and did not 
come within the range of operations. 

If the damage caused to one's own sea-trade (including that 
of the Colonies) becomes intolerable, as in our own case, means of 
coast-defence provide no adequate protection. 

If it comes to the point that one must decide antagonisms by 
arms, the foremost consideration is no longer ''how can I defend 
myself? " but "how can I hit the enemy most severely?" Attack, 
not defence, leads most quickly to the goal. 

The best deterrent from war is, moreover, to impress on the 
enemy the certainty that he must thereby suffer considerably. 

The method adopted by us of creating an efficient battle-fleet, 
an engagement with which involved a risk for England, offered not 
only the greatest prospect of preventing war, but also, if war could 
not be avoided, the best possibility of striking the enemy effectively. 
Of the issue of a fleet action it could with certainty be stated that the 
resultant damage to the English supremacy at sea would be great 
and correspond proportionately with our losses. Whilst we at 
need could get over such a sacrifice, it must exercise an intolerable 
effect on England, which relied on its sea power alone. How far 
these considerations, on which the construction of our Fleet was 
based, were recognised as correct on the English side, can be judged 
from the tactics of England's Fleet in the world-war, which through- 
out the struggle were based on the most anxious efforts to avoid 
suffering any real injury. 

How our Fleet conducted itself in opposition to this, and 
succeeded in making the war at sea an effective menace to England 
will be evfdent from the following account of the war. 



The First Two Years of the War to the 
Battle of the Skagerrak 

• •• • 

• • : • • .• 


• • 

• -• -"•••• 

Germany^s High Sea Fleet 
in the World War 



THE visit of an English squadron for the Kiel Week in June, 
19 14, seemed to indicate a desire to give visible expression to 
the fact that the political situation had eased. Although we could 
not suppress a certain feeling of doubt as to the sincerity of their 
intentions, everyone on our side displayed the greatest readiness to 
receive the foreign guests with hospitality and comradeship. 

The opportunity of seeing great English fighting-ships and their 
ships' companies at close quarters had become so rare an event that 
on this account alone the visit was anticipated with the liveliest 
interest. All measures were taken to facilitate the entrance of the 
English into Kiel Harbour and make it easy for them to take up 
their station and communicate with the shore, and it goes without 
saying that they were ^||^tted the best places in the line, close to 
the Imperial yacht. Accustomed as we were from early times 
to regard the English ships as models, the external appearance of 
which alone produced the impression of perfection, it was with a 
feeling of pardonable pride that we now had an opportunity of 
making comparisons which were not in our disfavour. The English 
ships comprised a division of four battleships under the command 
of Vice-Admiral Sir George Warrender, who was flying his flag 
in the battleship King George F., which was accompanied by 
Audacious^ Ajax, and Centurion, and a squadron of light cruisers, 
Southampton^ Birmingham, and Nottingham, under Commodore 

While the time of the senior naval officers was fully taken up 
with official visits and ceremonies, the juniors largely made use of 
the facilities afforded them to visit Hamburg and Berlin by rail. 
Friendly relations were soon established between the men, after the 


• -«• •• • 

.• • • 

•• - ••••••• : • • •, 

Germany's High Sea Fleet 

way of seafaring folk, and these were further promoted by games 
and festivities to their taste. 

The feeling of camaraderie which, as my experience went, had 
marked intercourse between German and English naval officers, 
as men of similar ways of thought and capacity, up to the year 1895, 
had now disappeared as a result of the attitude of hostility 
towards our progress which had been displayed by English states- 
men, especially in recent years. Every attempt to sham a relation- 
ship to which our inmost feelings did not correspond would have 
compromised our dignity and lowered us in the eyes of the English. 
It is also easy to realise that there could be no question of making 
an impression by a full-dress muster of every possible ship. For 
this occasion only those of our ships were assembled at Kiel which 
were based thereon. 

As our Fleet increased, it had become necessary to distribute 
the various squadrons between the two main bases, Kiel and 
Wilhelmshaven, both with a view to using simultaneously the avail- 
able docking facilities and also to keeping the ships' companies in 
touch with their nucleus crews on land. The families, too, resided 
at the headquarters of these nucleus crews, to which the long- 
service men, especially the warrant and petty officers, returned 
on receiving a special order and there awaited fresh employment. 
The ships spent the unfortunately all too short periods which the 
annual training permitted, at their bases. 

The disturbing element in this gay and peaceful picture, in which 
the only note of rivalry was sounded by competitions in skill in the 
realms of sport, was the news of the murder of the Austrian heir, 
the Archduke Franz Ferdinand. The Kaiser left Kiel the verv 
next day and travelled to Berlin. The English ships departed on 
June 29, their light cruisers using the Kaiser Wilhelm Canal. They 
thus had an opportunity of making a close acquaintance with the 
new waterway which had only been completed a few weeks before. 
Whether it could be also used by our heavy ships was one of their 
questions which must be laid to the account of untimely curiosity. 
The deepening and widening of the Canal and the construction of 
the new locks at the entrances had been completed only just in time. 
They had become necessary to permit the passage of the big ships, 
the building of which had been imposed upon us by the introduc- 
tion of the "Dreadnought" type. The unsuitability of this high- 
way for battle-cruisers like the Blucher and the battleships of the 
"Nassau " class had been a matter of much concern to our naval 

The Outbreak of War 

High Command since 1999, on account of the injurious efifect on 
the strategic situation. It also involved laying an unnecessary 
burden on our main base in the North Sea, which could not keep 
pace with the growing number of ships assigned to it. 

About a week later the Kaiser returned to Kiel, and on July 5 
started out for his usual cruise to Norway. As the situation could 
by no means be considered reassuring, exhaustive conferences were 
held between the Naval authorities in Berlin and the Fleet to discuss 
the various contingencies of war. As subsequent events showed, 
the most noteworthy of these was the hypothesis that England would 
remain neutral in the collision with Russia, and most probably her 
Ally, France, with which we were threatened. It was on this account 
that the Fleet was allowed to leave for the summer cruise to Norway 
at the time provided for in the annual scheme. 

This decision, as indeed that of the Kaiser, can only be attri- 
buted to carelessness or an intention to show no nervousness. That 
intention, in turn, can only have be^n due to a firm conviction of 
England's neutrality. 

In the annual scheme the summer cruise iiepresented the high 
watermark of the development attained. As a reward for the effort 
shown in daily work, the individual training of the ships and the 
handling of separate squadrons as well as the whole Fleet, it ended 
with a visit to foreign ports instead of a sojourn in our own harbours. 

This excursion abroad not only served the purpose of keeping 
up interest in the work but also helped us to maintain our political 
prestige by showing the flag, especially when an impression of power 
was thereby created. 

When a single gunboat turned up on a distant shore to show 
the German flag there, the foreigner at once professed to regard it 
as obvious that this ship was the emissary of the Imperial Govern- 
ment which, for the matter of that, had at home an imposing Fleet 
and a great Army to secure our position in Europe. A corresponding 
display of power on the spot was far more convincing and at the 
same time revealed the capabilities of our shipbuilding industry 
and refuted the widespread legend that England alone had the best 
and largest ships. 

In view of the uncertain political situation since the summer of 
1909 we had discontinued the practice of sending the whole Fleet, 
or substantial parts of it, to great distances such as the Mediter- 
ranean, to Spanish or Portuguese harbours, Cape Verde and the 
Azores. Thus for our purpose the principal country for us to visit 


Germany's High Sea Fleet 

was Norway, in the numerous fjords of w(hose coast it was possible 
to distribute the ships to the satisfaction of all concerned and avoid 
overwhelming the inhabitants with a mass of sailors on leave. The 
distribution also made a greater variety of excursions available to 
the men, as each ship had its particular place of call. 

There had only been one break — in the summer of 191 2 — in our 
annual visit to the Norwegian coast since 1910. In this year, 1914, 
the general political situation required that the visit of the Kaiser 
and the Fleet should have its usual objective. A cruise to the coasts 
of the eastern Baltic, even a hasty call at our harbours in that region, 
does not appear to have been in keeping with the policy we were 
pursuing at this critical moment. 

With the cruise to Norway we abandoned the chance of sending 
our Fleet east and thus bringing pressure to bear on Russia to 
induce her to stop her preparations for war. The use of t/he floating 
army, which requires no special mobilisation, is ideal for such a 
purpose. In that case Danzig Bay would have offered us a first- 
class base, as the larger units could have deployed from there with 
extreme ease in contrast to the difficult exits from the estuaries of the 
North Sea rivers — the Elbe, Weser, Jade and Ems, while the light 
forces attached to the Fleet would liave found a fortified base in the 
harbour of Neufahrwasser. 

How Norway could have been chosen for the goal of our cruise 
in the situation at that moment seems incredible and gives one the 
impression that we deliberately intended to shut our eyes to the 
danger. The chance of appearing with a strong naval force, first 
as a demonstration and later in dead earnest, in our eastern waters 
was from the start not given the consideration its importance merited. 

On July 14 Squadron II, of which I had assumed command at 
the beginning of February in the previous year, in succession to 
Vice-Admiral von Ingenohl, who had been appointed Commander- 
in-Chief of the Fleet, left Kiel Bay to rendezvous off Skagen with 
the ships coming from Wilhelmshaven and then carry out extensive 
fleet exercises which were principally concerned with the solution 
of tactical pioblems. Through the addition of a third squadron to 
the High Sea Fleet these exercises were of particular importance 
for this cruise, as this newly-formed third squadron had as yet had 
no chance of taking part in combined exercises. 

The practical application of theoretical tactics to the circumstances 
arising out of battle is inexhaustible and provides fresh material from 
year to year. 


The Outbreak of War 

The new squadron required training in that respect. In war 
games, indeed, very useful preliminary work can be done in this 
department, but that tactical insight which knows how to exploit 
a favourable situation is itself first trained on the open sea and in 
the last resort it is the sum of the impressicMis received which first 
enables the commander to come to the right decision in the time 
available, which is often only a matter of seconds. For such de- 
cisions there are no rules, however valuable certain tactical principles 
may be, which have been sanctified by experience. 

In the era of sailing ships it was a simple matter, owing to the 
slow deployment for battle and the small range of the guns. But 
to-day it is altogether different, in view of the great speed of the 
ships and the huge range of the guns. The first shells usually 
arrive the moment the enemy is seen, and we have known cases in 
which the impact of the enemy's projectiles is the first notification 
of his being in the vicinity, and he has not become visible until 
some time afterwards. 

.With regard to England, we were faced with a particularly diffi- 
cult, indeed almost insoluble problem. We had to deal with our 
enemy in such a way as to give greater effect to our smaller calibre 
guns at short range and be able to use a torpedo wherever possible. 
From the English we had to expect that in view of the greater speed 
possessed by their ships of every type and their heavier artillery, 
they would select the range that suited them and fight a "holding- 
off" action. That, indeed, is exactly what happened in the war. 
The necessity of practical training in this department illustrates the 
importance of the addition of a third squadron. 

Further, Squadron III, comprising our latest battleships, was not 
at full strength, but just formed a division consisting of the Prim 
Regent Luitpold (flagship), and the battleships Kaiser, Kaiserin, and 
Konig Albert. In the course of the winter, beginning at the end 
of December, the Kaiser and Konig Albert had been away on a 
longish cruise in foreign waters. The ships had paid a visit to our 
colonies — the Cameroons and German South- West Africa — ^visited 
the harbours of Brazil and the Argentine, and then passed through 
the Straits of Magellan to the west coast of South America and 
Chile. The ships had behaved very well on the distant cruise, which 
was particularly arduous on account of the long sojourn in the 
tropics. In particular, the engine-room personnel had had an 
opportunity of becoming thoroughly familiar with the internal 
arrangements. On the other hand battle-practice could not be 


Germany's High Sea Fleet 

carried out to the extent that it was at home, wihere no diversions 
were involved. 

At the same time as we were starting on our Scandinavian cruise 
the English Fleet had assembled for a great test-mobilisation at 
Spithead. It was thus ready and thereafter continued so. 

On our way north two French destroyers whidh we passed on 
July i6 so close that we could make out their names — Stilette and 
Tfombeau — reminded us that the President of the French Republic, 
Poincar^, was on his way from Dunkirk to St. Petersburg in the 
battleship France^ accompanied by the cruiser Jean Bart, and might 
pass us at any time. We did not like the prospect of having to 
show him the usual courtesies on the high seas — sl salute — ^prescribed 
by international usage, so we drew ahead in order to avoid any 
chance of a meeting. 

Our battle-practice was continued until July 24, on which day 
the high cliffs of the Norwegian coast were for the most part 
visible, thanks to the clear, fine weather. On July 22 we had 
crossed the 6oth degree of latitude, which forms the boundary of 
home waters, but not for long. We stayed quite a short time in 
Norwegian waters, in fact just long enough to allow coaling from 
colliers sent to meet us at certain anchorages. My flagship Preussen 
and the battleship Schlesien, which together formed one division, 
were looked after by the Dutch steamer Willi. The First Division 
was in the Nordfjord by Olde, the Second, comprising Hessen and 
Lothfingen, was also in the Nordfjord, by Sandene, while the other 
half of the squadron, the Fourth Division, had called at Molde. In 
the same way the battle-cruisers and light cruisers of the Fleet, 
as well as the battleships of Squadrons I and II, were distributed 
among other inlets, notably the Sogne and Hardanger Fjords. The 
very day we left, Saturday, July 25, the news reached us of the 
Austrian ultimatum to Serbia. In view of that we were not at all 
surprised to get an order to hold ourselves ready to put to sea 
immediately. In the afternoon of the next day, Sunday, we left 
for the rendezvous appointed for the whole Fleet, aBout 250 nautical 
miles from the entrance to the Nordfjord. 

After the Fleet had assembled the Flag Officers of the squadrons 
had a conference on the Fleet-Flagship, at which Admiral von 
Ingenohl explained the political situation and the necessity for 
our being prepared for the immediate outbreak of war. He also 
told us that England would probably remain neutral. On this 
subject we had received a report that King George of England had 


The Outbreak of War 

expressed himself in that sense to Prince Henry of Prussia. Not- 
withstanding this, every possible warlike precaution was taken for 
the rest of our homeward journey. But the Fleet was divided in 
such a way that Squadron I, under the command of Vice-Admiral 
von LanSy and comprising the four ships of the " Ostf riesland " 
class and the four of the "Nassau" class, with the battle-cruisers, 
steamed to Wilhelmshaven through the North Sea, while Squadrons 
II and III with the Fleet-Flagship returned to Kiel through the 
Kattegat. This distribution of the Fleet is manifest proof of our 
confidence that no attack threatened us from the side of England. 
It was only in the East that danger was visible, and accordingly it 
seemed inadvisable to remove all our big ships from the Baltic. 

On July 29 the ships lay in Kiel Harbour and were engaged in 
effecting the pre-arranged measures which as a rule precede a regular 
mobilisation, measures which were ordered on account of the in- 
creasing tension of the political situation. 

All our preparations were inspired by the impression tihat what 
we had to face was a war with Russia and France. Fuelling and 
taking in supplies took up the whole of July 29. We had not yet 
recalled the men on leave, as all hope of the maintenance of peace 
had not by any means yet been abandoned. It was only on the 
following day ^at the news became more menacing and England's 
attitude more hostile. Squadron III accordingly made preparations 
to go through the Canal into the North Sea, while the final steps were 
now taken to make the ships ready for the change to battle con- 
ditions, which mig/ht at any time become necessary. 

On July 31 the Commander-in-Chief in the Friedrich der Grosse 
passed into the Canal on his way to the North Sea. It was obvious 
from this step that for us the centre of gravity of the war at sea 
now lay in the west. Shortly before his departure I had an inter- 
view with Admiral von Ingenohl in which he told me that in case 
of war my task with Squadron II would be to deal with Russia. 

It is easy to understand that this commission, which put me 
in a position to lead and execute the first naval enterprises indepen- 
dently, had a great attraction for me. The appointment of a new 
Commander-in-Chief for the Baltic in the person of Prince Henry 
of Prussia had no material effect on my freedom of action at sea, 
once we had set out for enemy waters; and, besides, Prince Henry's 
professional knowledge, his whole mode of thought and conception 
of responsibility offered a guarantee that his appointment could 
only serve a useful purpose. It may here be said at once that the 


Germany's High Sea Fleet 

royal Commander-in-Chief grasped and carried out in the most 
typical fashion the difficult and thankless task of our defensive 
operations in the Baltic, for which we disposed of very limited 
resources, both as regards numbers and efficiency, after England 
had appeared on the scene as the principal enemy. A Russian 
invasion like that of East Prussia, which might easily have been 
followed by another from the sea, and would have meant the total 
destruction of numerous important and beautiful places on the Baltic 
coast, was spared us. 

But our hopes of an independent Baltic operation were destroyed 
the very same day by the order to Squadron II to follow the others 
immediately to the North Sea. The High Sea Fleet was accordingly 
concentrated in the Jade on August i and at 8 o'clock in the evening 
the mobilisation order arrived, which was greeted by the crews of 
the ships with loud cheers. 

Meattwliile, opinion had veered round completely as to the prob- 
able attitude of England, and it was accepted as certain in the 
Fleet that she would join the two opponents with whom we had 
alone been concerned at the outset. This view corresponded to the 
temper prevailing in the Fleet. We were fully aware of the serious- 
ness of the situation, and that we should now be faced with a contest 
in which an honourable defeat might well be our only prospect. 
But nowhere was there the slightest sign of despondency over the 
enemy's overwhelming superiority, but rather a burning enthusiasm 
and lust of battle, worked up by the feeling of indignation at the 
oppression which that superiority had meant, and the conviction 
that our duty was now to put in our last ounce of strength lest we 
leave the Fatherland in the lurch. The crews needed no special 
exhortation to give of their best, for the joy of battle shone in their 
eyes. The leaders, calmly weighing up the prospects of battle, 
could only feel that the men's confidence in victory encouraged them 
to dare to the uttermost. The whole service was carried away by 
the feeling that we were under a duty to fulfil the expectations to 
which expression had many a time been given in peace. 

During its history of barely more than fifty years, the Prussian 
and German Fleet had not been permitted an opportunity of match- 
ing itself in a serious campaign with European opponents of equal 
standing, apart from individual affairs which justified the brightest 
hopes. Our ships had shown what they could do mainly in co- 
operating in the acquisition of our colonial possessions or maintain- 
ing respect for and upholding the prestige of the German flag against 


The Outbreak of War 

the encroachments of half-civilised or savage races. We had no 
personal experience of commanding and handling in battle the big 
ships which had recently come into existence. Nor, for the matter of 
that, had our most important opponent at sea, England. 

The English Fleet had the advantage of looking back on a 
hundred years of proud tradition which must have given every man 
a sense of superiority based on the great deeds of the past. This 
could only be strengthened by the sight of their huge fleet, each unit 
of which in every class was supposed to represent the last word in 
the art of marine construction. The feeling was also supported 
by the British sailor's perfect familiarity with the sea and with 
conditions of life on board ship, a familiarity which took for granted 
all the hardships inseparable from his rough calling. 

In our Fleet reigned a passionate determination not to fall behind 
our comrades of the Army, and a burning desire to lay the founda- 
tion-stone of a glorious tradition. Our advantage was that we had 
to establish our reputation with the nation, while the enemy had 
to defend his. We were urged on by the impulse to dare all, 
while he had to be careful that he did not prejudice his ancient 

There was only one opinion among us, from the Commander- 
in-Chief down to the latest recruit, about the attitude of the English 
Fleet. We were convinced that it would seek out and attack our 
Fleet the minute it showed itself and wherever it was. This could 
be accepted as certain from all the lessons of English naval history, 
and the view was reinforced by the statement, so often made on the 
English side, that the boundaries of the operations of their fleet lay 
on the enemy's coasts. It was also confirmed by an earlier remark 
of the Civil Lord, Lee : " If it ever comes to war with Germany the 
nation will wake up one morning and find that it has possessed a 
fleet.*' All this pointed to the intention of making a quick and 
thorough job of it. 

Right up to the last moment in which there was the remotest 
possibility of keeping England out of the war everything was 
avoided which could have provided a superficial excuse for the exist- 
ence of a crisis. The Heligoland Bight was left open to traffic so 
far as it was not commanded by the guns on the Island ; elsewhere 
there were none which had a sufficient range to stop traffic. We had 
never regarded it as possible that the English Fleet would be held 
back from battle and, as a "fleet in being,'* be restricted solely to 
blockading us from a distance, thereby itself running no risks. 



Germany's High Sea Fleet 

The test mobilisation to which I have already referred and the 
advanced stage of preparation thus involved also seemed to indicate 
that offensive operations were to be expected immediately. This 
mobilisation at the same time aflForded a proof of the resolve of 
the English Government not to be afraid of increasing the existing 
tension, and to add the weight of their Fleet, fully prepared for 
war, to the concentration of the Russian armies. 




OUR High Sea Fleet was concentrated in the North Sea. Since 
February, 1913, it had been under the command of Admiral von 
.Ingenohl, who was flying his flag in the battleship Friedrich der 
Grosse. The High Sea Fleet was composed of three squadrons, 
cruisers and destroyers : 


. Vice-Admiral von Lans {In Command). 
Rear- Admiral Gaedecke {Second in Command), 

\ Ostfriesland. Thilringen. Helgoland, Oldenburg. 

\ Posen. Rheinland. Nassau. Westfalen. 


Vice-Admiral Scheer {In Command). 
Commodore Mauve {Second in Command). 

* Battleships 

/ ' Preussen. Schlesien. Hessen. Lothringen. Hannover, 
i Schleswig'Holsiein. Pommern. Deuischland. 

Rear-Admiral Funke {In Command). 

♦^ Kaiser. Kaiserin. Konig Albert. Prim Regent Luitpold. 

Rear-Admiral Hipper {In Command). 
i. Rear-Admiral Maass {Second in Command). 
t J Rear-Admiral Tapken. 



Germany's High Sea Fleet 

Seydlitz. Moltke. Von der Tann. 

Light Cruisers. 

Koln. Mains. Stralsund, Kolberg. Rostock. 

^ Sirassburg. 

Seven Destroyer Flotillas 

(In peace these were only occasionally under the orders of the High 

Sea Fleet.) 

Hela (small cruiser of no fighting value). Pfeil. Blitz. 

At this point I must say something about the organisation of 
the Fleet in order to present a picture of its fighting value. As is 
well known, our. JSlayy. Bills had provided for a total of 41 battle- 
ships, 20 battle-cruisers, ^aJig^Lcruisers, I?, destroyer flotillas and 
4 submarine flotillas^ This fleet was divided into the Home Fleet and 
the Foreign Fleet. The nucleus of the Home Fleet was the High 
Sea Fleet which was principally concerned with preparing itself for 
battle in case of war. In order to devote ourselves wholly to that 
purpose and be in a condition to be sent wherever required — that 
is, be permanently mobile — it was relieved of all other tasks and 
these were assigned to special ships (Training, Gunnery, and 
Specialist). The, result of this was that a continuously high standard 
of preparedness in battle-practice was not to be attained under our 
system because every year a portion of each crew went to the Reserve 
and had to be replaced by recruits who for the most part came to 
the sea service as utter novices. The most varied effort's to tide 
over the period of weakness that was thus involved every autumn 
had hitherto led to no conclusive results. From our point of view 
the fact that this war broke out in summer was thus peculiarly 
unfavourable. The training, gunnery and specialist ships were 
used for the education of the rising generation of officers and 
embryo officers (cadets and midshipmen) and the training of j."un- 
nery, torpedo, and mine specialists, as well as coast survey and 
fishery protection. As a rule, these duties were assigned to oMer 
ships which were no longer fit to take their place in the first battle 
line. For example, the old armoured cruisers Herta, Hansa, Freya, 


Relative Strengths and the Strategic Situation 

Vineta, and Viktoria Luise were employed as training ships. It 
had not been found possible to avoid calling on the modern ships 
for the special purpose of gunnery and torpedo practice, although 
the Commander-in-Chief of the Fleet was very reluctant to part with 
them because the training of these ships for war purposes was 
limited to a very short period of the year. Our weakness in cruisers 
with the High Sea Fleet — ior the requirements of foreign stations 
had to be satisfied as well — was particularly deplorable. We had 
abroad a cruiser squadron in Eastern Asia and two cruisers (Go ^pen 
and Breslau) in£h^ T\|^'j^f|-;^pp^n ^ in addition to a few old gun- 
boats statloned*permanently at various places. The cruiser squadron 
under Count Spee consisted of the two battle-cruisers Scharn^ 
horst and GnejssxkOMy a^d the light cruisers Niirnb£3f£, Emden, 
Dre^dMi, and Lefjij^. In this connection importance was attached 
to sending the best that we had in the way of light cruisers to foreign 
seas. As regards battle-cruisers, Scharnhorst and Gneisenau, which 
were a match for any pre-Dreadnought cruiser, had to suffice, while . . 
we had only three battle-cruiser s in home waters, as Goeben was in V .^ 
the M^i^i»<>rrQr^^an^ onH^igjrjF^ffl^^y ^nA Lutzow W ere not yet ready. . • \ ^ 

Another battle-cruiser, Blucher, was being employed in gunnery.-' ' , j 
practice. With her twelve 21-cm. guns and the speed of 25 knots> ^ V'* '^ 
she was considerably inferior in fighting value to the first of the 
English battle-cruisers of the "Invincible '* class, which dated from 
two years later and carried eight 30.5-cm. guns. 

Besides the ships commissioned for training and experimental 
purposes there were a certain number of other ships in home waters 
which, as provided by the Navy Bills, were to form the Reserve 
Fleet. As the provisions of the Navy Bills had not yet been worked 
out, of these formations only a nucleus in the shape of the battleship 
Wittelsbach could be kept permanently in commission. Another ship 
of the same class, the Wettin, was used as a gunnery training school, 
while the rest were docked and received only as much attention as 
was required to keep their engines, structure, and armaments in 
proper condition. 

On mobilisation, all training and experimental ships stopped 
their work and passed under the command of the High Sea Fleet. 
Out of the ships in reserve in dock. Squadrons IV, V and VI were 
formed. The battleships of the "Wittelsbach '* class formed 
Squadron IV under the former Inspector of Gunnery, Vice-Admiral 
Ehrhard Schmidt; the ships of the older "Kaiser" class made up 
Squadron V (Vice-Admiral Grepow); while the old coast defence 


Germany's High Sea Fleet 

cruisers of the "Siegfried " class formed Squadron VI (Rear-Admiral 

Thanks to careful preparation, the ships were put on a war foot- 
ing without the slightest hitch. Of course, it took some further 
time before the ships' companies of Squadrons IV, V, and VI were 
so advanced in training, either as individual units or in combina- 
tion, that they could be used for war purposes. With a view to 
increasing the peace establishment, the crews of the High Sea Fleet 
received on mobilisation an extra quota of men, who joined the ships 
in the first days and were a very welcome reinforcement. 

While steaming at full speed was seldom permitted in peace 
time, in order to economise coal and save the engines, in war a 
ship must be in a condition, as soon as she gets to sea, to develop 
the utmost capacity of her engines, and so all the boilers must be 
used continuously. With a crew of about a thousand men, which 
is normal for battleships and battle-cruisers, it is essential to make 
allowance for a certain percentage of sick and other casualties. Such 
deficiencies were made good by the mobilisation "supplement," 
which amounted to about lo per cent, of the peace establishment. 
As the war proceeded, the system proved its usefulness by enabling 
us to let the men go on leave without lowering the standard of the 
ships* readiness for battle to a disadvantageous degree. The rein- 
forcement was particularly important to the battle-cruisers, which, 
in view of their enormous consumption of coal in order to attain 
the very highest speed, were not in a position, with the engine-room 
complement allowed by establishment, to bring the coal from the more 
distant bunkers to the stokehold, so that help had to be requisi- 
tioned from the sailors. As far as possible, the bunkers in the 
immediate vicinity of the stokehold were left untouched, in readiness 
for action, when not a man on board could be spared from his action 

The system of command is a question of special importance to 
the organisation of a navy. The bulk of the ships in home waters 
were under the command of a single authority, the Commander-in- 
Chief of the High Sea Fleet. Of course, the ships at distant 
stations abroad could not be under his command, and certain ships 
in home waters, operating in a theatre which had no absolutely 
direct connection with the operations in the main theatre, had a 
Commander-in-Chief of their own. The number of ships combined 
under one command must not be so large that their commander 
cannot control and lead them in action, for one of the most material 


Relative Strengths and the Strategic Situation 

differences between fighting on land and at sea is that in the latter 
case the commander himself goes into the firing line. But com- 
mand goes hand in hand with responsibility for the execution of 
all plans, and it was therefore a doubtful policy to establish an 
authority above the Commander-in-Chief of the Fleet who had the 
most important forces under his command. In view of the pecu- 
liarities of naval warfare^ the higher authority cannot be in a position 
to settle beforehand the details of time and method of any particular 
enterprise which has been decided upon, in the same way as this is 
both possible and essential for the command of operations on land. 
However, the demands of the various theatres in which fighting 
took place in this war made some central authority necessary which 
could distribute the number of ships required for all purposes, and 
which could also have strong influence on the conduct of operations 
in the individual theatres. The authority for this purpose was the 
Naval Staff, in which the preliminary work on the plan of operations 
had already been done. The Chief of the Naval Staff had the duty 
of laying the proposed orders for the operations before the Supreme 
War Lord, to whom the Constitution gave the supreme command 
over aill our forces on land and sea. After these orders had received 
the Imperial approval, the Chief of the Naval Staff had to transmit 
them to the Fleet. 

The functions of the Naval Staff assumed particular importance 
in this war, in which the closest co-operation of the Fleet and Army 
for the common end was of quite special importance. The develop- 
ment of the Navy, which had grown to the status of a great war 
machine in the last decades, had not, however, admitted of the 
simultaneous satisfaction of the requirements in personnel which 
made themselves felt in all quarters. The working of the Naval 
Staff had suffered from this cause in peace time and it produced 
its effect in war. In peace the influence of the State Secretary of 
the Imperial Naval Administration was paramount, especially when 
that office was held by a personality like Grand Admiral von Tirpitz, 
who by his outstanding abilities had gained an influence which 
no naval officer had ever before exercised in the history of our Navy. 
In war, on the other hand, he had no direct influence on the conduct 
of operations. 

The development of our Navy had not taken place without 
numerous differences of opinion about the best method of its con- 
struction. At the front and in the Naval Staff the principal require- 
ment was considered to be that the existing Fleet should be so 
c 17 



Germany's High Sea Fleet 

complete in all its details, and therefore so ready for war, that all 
differences would be made good. The Secretary of State, on the 
other hand, who had a great programme in mind and steadily pur- 
sued its realisation, attached more importance to having all the 
essential elements ready, and as regards secondary matters, trusting 
more or less to improvisation if war came before the final develop- 
ment of the Fleet had been realised. He accordingly promoted the 
construction of battleships and destroyers primarily, bearing in 
mind the root principle from which our Navy Bills had sprung, that 
with the Fleet we should create a weapon which should be strong 
enough to fight against a superior hostile fleet. The course of the 
war has proved the soundness of that principle. 

Only in one material point were our strategical views based on 
an assumption which proved unfounded, the assumption that the 
English Fleet, which had kept ahead of ours in its construction at 
every stage, would seek battle in the German Bight in the North 
Sea, or would force its way to wherever it hoped to find the German 
Fleet. On that account we had attached particular importance to 
the greatest defensive and offensive powers, and considered we might 
regard speed and radius of action as secondary matters. The dif- 
ference between our type of ships and that of the English shows 
that in both Fleets strategic ideas governed the method of con- 
struction. The English were content with less armour, but attached 
importance to higher speed and the largest possible calibre of gun 
so that they could impose on their opponent their own choice of 
battle area. 

Side by side with the Commander-in-Chief of the High Sea 
Fleet a special command was introduced for the Baltic forces. The 
commanders of ships in foreign waters were of course independent 
and received their orders through the Chief of the Naval Staff, whose 
co-operation in the business of procuring coal and supplies for the 
conduct of cruiser warfare could not be dispensed with. 

Thus for the first time in German history sea power also was 
to play a mighty part in the great fight for existence with which 
our nation was faced. As regards the handling of our Fleet, we 
had not only to consider how we could bring about the most favour- 
able opportunity of winning the victory, but also what tasks, within 
the framework of the combined operations, fell to our share. The 
strategical plans of the Army had a decisive influence on the 
functions of the Fleet. The Navy had the duty of supporting the 
Army in its uphill task of fighting a superior enemy on two fronts 


Relative Strengths and the Strategic Situation 

in such a way that its rear was unconditionally secured against any 
danger threatening from the north. So long as it was only a 
question of fighting the Dual Alliance the Army was relieved of all 
anxiety from that direction, as the Fleet was quite equal to its task. 
The Army had made its plans in such a way that victory could be 
expected from an offensive, and the full weight of that offensive 
would at first be directed to one spot. It followed from this that 
at the outset a defensive attitude would be adopted on the other 
front, and all preparations for defence would have to be made in 
that quarter. 

The third front, the sea front, acquired a special importance 
when England joined the ranks of our opponents. But so far as 
can be seen from the course of the war no material change was made 
in the fundamental principles underlying our strategic operations 
on land. As I was then only holding the position of commander of 
a squadron, I did not know whether, in view of the increasing 
hostility of England, the idea was considered of adopting a fresh 
joint plan of operations for the Army and the Fleet, which would 
be based on the notion of improving our defensive prospects against ♦ 
England. This could have been obtained by the speediest possible 
acquisition of the sector of the French coast which commanded the 
Dover-Calais line. In this way the English cross-Channel transport 
service, as well as the trade routes to the Thames, would have been \ 
seriously threatened.^ I^ only we had realised from the start that \ 
the influence of England's sea power on the course of the war would V 
be as great as it turned out to be later, to our disadvantage, a higher \ 
importance would have been attached to this question at the outset. 
As it happened, the course of the campaign in France forced us into 
a position in which we were nothing but the flank protection of the 
right wing of our Army which stretched to the sea and therefore 
brought us the Flemish coast as our starting point, though nothing 
like so valuable, for attacks against England. The Navy had to 
spring into the breach and take up the defence against English 
sea power. It appeared obvious that the entry of England into the 
ranks of our enemies would not divert the Army from its task. The 
Army considered it much more obvious that the Navy should support 
it by hindering the passage of transports across the Channel. 

The protection of these transports was one of the principal 
functions of the English Fleet. We could only interfere with it 
at the price of a decisive battle with the English Fleet, and even if 
the encounter took a favourable course there was no guarantee that 


Germany's High Sea Fleet 

we should attain our end of permanently and eflfectively interrupting 
supplies from overseas. We shall have to go into the feasibility 
of suoh plans at a later stage. 

Even without the inauguration of a comprehensive and detailed 
plan of (^rations for the Army and Navy the military situation 
required that the movements of the Navy should be adapted to 
the progress of the Army's operations lest the failure of some naval 
undertaking should put the Army in the dilemma of havmg to 
relax its own offensive or perhaps break it off altogether. 

The enemy, too, cannot have failed to realise the importance of 
the German Fleet for a favourable development of the war on land. 
If the enemy ever succeeded in securing the command of the Baltic 
and landing Russian troops on the coast of Pomerania our Eastern 
front must have collapsed altogether and brought to naught our 
plan of campaign, which consisted of a defensive attitude in the East 
and the rapid overthrow of tho French Army. The command of 
the Baltic rested on the power of the German Fleet. If we had 
destroyed the Russian Fleet our danger from the Baltic would by 
no means have been eliminated, as a landing could have been carried 
out just as easily under the protection of English naval forces if 
the German Fleet no longer existed to hinder it. For such a pur- 
pose the English Fleet had no need to venture into the Baltic itself. 
They had it in their power to compel us to meet them in the 
North Sea immediately they made an attack upon our coast. In 
view of such an eventuality we must not wesdcen ourselves per- 
manently, as we could not help doing if we attempted to eliminate 
the danger which the Russian Fleet represented for us in the 

It was all the more probable that the English Fleet would attack 
because the combined enemy fleets would then have a free hand 
against our coasts. It was improbable that England would seek 
battle with the German Fleet — which she was bound to regard as her 
primary naval objective — ^in the Baltic where all the advantages were 
on our side. I 

For this reason the concentration area of our Fleet was the North 
Sea. It was from there that we could threaten the east coast of 
England and therefore tie up the English Fleet in the North Sea. 
We could always deal in time (by using the Kaiser Wilhelm Canal) 
with any attempt of the English to penetrate into the Baltic. At the 
outset somewhat weak observation forces had to suffice against the 
Russians, and these forces had to try to intimidate the Russians 


Relative Strengths and the Strategic Situation 

into the same course of action by adopting oflFensive methods 
wherever possible. Mines could do us good service in that respect. 
This method of intimidation, however, could only be eflfeotive so 
long as we could still employ a superior force against the Russians, 
and we should abandon that superiority out of hand if we attempted 
to seek batde with the English Fleet under unfavourable circum- 
stances, because, to say the least of it, the result was doubtful. In 
view of the high state of preparedness and the superiority of the 
English Fleet probabilities pointed to a failure for us which would 
have a fateful effect on the final result of the war. 

Apart from the fact that these considerations urged caution, 
at the beginning of the war we were without any certain data as 
to the whereabouts of the English Fleet, and could only acquire 
some by observation of the movements of the enemy. ,We had to 
expect an attack in the greatest possible strength because our un- 
favourable strategic situation, which was due to the geographical 
formation of the North Sea theatre, put us at a disadvantage at the 
outset. Our position in the North Sea suffered from the fact that 
for any enterprise we had only one point of exit : in that far corner 
which faces the mouths of the Elbe and the Weser. From it alone 
could the Fleet emerge for an attack, and to it must return again 
to seek the shelter of our bases in the estuaries of the Jade and Elbe. 
The route round Skagen and the Belt was closed to us, as the Danes 
had laid minefields in these waters. The sides of the "Wet 
Triangle, *• the apex of which can be imagined at Heligoland, 
ended at Sylt in the north and the mouth of the Ems in the west. 
The left bank of the Ems is in Dutch, and therefore neutral, 
territory. All movements of ships there could accordingly be 
observed and the observation brought to the knowledge of the enemy 
in the shortest time. The channel at Sylt is navigable solely for 
destroyers and light cruisers, and then only in favourable conditions 
of wind and tide. 

On the other hand, the east coast of England offered a whole 
series of safe anchorages for large ships, inde^ for the whole Fleet. 
As appears from the map, the English coast takes a westerly 
direction the farther north it gets, so that on our attacks against 
the northern bases our distance from home is increased, to the great 
advantage of the enemy. 

While we could be taken in flank from the south if we attacked 
the English Fleet, thinking it to be in the north, and taken in the 
flank from the north if we made our attack in the south, the English 


Germany's High Sea Fleet 

were in the favourable position that as they approached our coast 
they need expect danger from only one quarter immediately ahead, 
the German Bight. They could send out submarines against the 
one base from which we should have to emerge, to do us all the 
damage they could on our way out and home, and need only keep 
that one point under observation. That relieved them of the 
obligation of detaching special observation forces. 


Iron Duke. 



Marlborough. St. Vincent. Colossus. Hercules. 

Neptune. Vanguard. Collingwood. Superb. 


King George V. Orion. Ajax. Audacious. Centurion. 

\ Conqueror. Monarch. Thunderer. 



King Edward VII. Hibernia. Commonwealth. Zealandia. 
Dominion. Africa. Britannia. 'Hindustan. 


Battleships -. . ^^^ 

Dreadnought. Temeraire. Bellerophon. i Agincouri. ^ -Erin- - 
Queen Elizabeth. Warspite. Valiant. Barham.' 

• The Third Battle Squadron consisted of ships of the pre-Dreadnought period, 
the First, Second and Fourth Battle S<}uadroiis of ** Dreadnoughts." In the Fourth 
Battle Squadron the ships from the Agtncourt onwards were not ready for sea ait the 
outbreak of wax. 


Relative Strengths and the Strategic Situation 


Battle-Cruisers . 

Lion. Princess Royal. Queen Mary. New Zealand. 

Invincible. Inflexible. Indomitable. Indefatigable. 


Shannon. Achilles. Cochrane. Natal. ul 


Antrim. Argyll. Devonshire. Roxburgh. 



Southampton. Birmingham. Nottingham. Lowestoft, i- 
Destroyer Flotillas (number and composition unknown). 

The above ships formed The Grand Fleet under the command 
of Admiral Sir John Jellicoe. 


» . Lord Nelson. 

i v< / 

,-vlr :*■ Battleships. 

Priri'*^, of Wales-. Agamemnon. Bulwark. Formidable. 
Implacable. Irresistible. London. Queen. 



Russell. Cornwallis. Albemafle. Duncan. Exmouth. 



^ . — — - iiGHT Cruisers. 

Carnarvon. V Falmouth. Liverpool. A'^ ] 

Germany's High Sea Fleet 


,. ^ 

' I » "* '. 

Drake. Good Hope. King Alfred. Leviathan. 

Seventh Battle Squadron. 
Eighth Battle Squadron. 

"" Eight ships of the " Majestic " class. 
Six ships of the " Canopus " class.-^ 

>» »i ' ''^ 

u : 

Seventh Cruiser Squadron. 

Ninth Cruiser Squadron. 

Tenth Cruiser Squadron. 
Eleventh Cruiser Squadron. 
Twelfth Cruiser Squadron. 

They comprised older cruisers, such as : 


f • * 



Ahoukir. Hogue. Hawke. Theseus. 
Edgar. Endymion. Gibraltar. Grafton, 
Royal Arthur. 

The Second and Third British Fleets were combined into the 
Channel Fleet under a special Commander-in-Chief. 

With these enormous forces England was certainly in a position 
to make us feel the weight of her sea powder. The most eflfective 
method of doing so would be the destruction of our Fleet. This 
was also the view of the English Commander-in-Chief at that time, 
who put it in these words : 

"The above objects are achieved in the quickest and surest 
manner by destroying the enemy's armed naval forces, and this is 
therefore the first objective of our Fleet. The Fleet exists to achieve 

The English Fleet did not live up to these proud words, in spite 
of its strength and the geographical position. Yet our belief that 

• In the book published in January, 1919, " The Grand Fleet, 1914-16," by 
Admir«a Viscount jelliooe of Scapa, the tasks of the British Fleet were set out as 
follows : (i) To ensure for British ships the unimpeded use of the seas, this being vital to 
the existence of an island nation, particularly one which is not self-supporting in 
regard to food. (2) In the event of war to bring steady economic pressure to bear 
on our adversary by denying to him the use of the aea, thus compelling him to accept 
peace. (3) Similarly, in the event of war, to cover the passage and assist any army 
sent overseas and to potect its communications and supplies. (4) To prevent invasion 
of this country and its overseas dominions by enemy forces. 


Relative Strengths and the Strategic Si 

it would act thus was thoroughly justified^ and we had to decide 
our attitude accordingly. 

In the War Orders which were issued to the Commander-in- 
Chief of the High Sea Fleet the task before him was framed as 
follows: The objective of the operations must be to damage the 
English Fleet by offensive raids against the naval forces engaged 
in watching and blockading the German Bight, as well as by 
mine-laying on the British coast and submarine attack, whenever 
possible. After an equality of strength had been realised as a 
result of these operations, and all our forces had been got ready 
and concentrated, an attempt was to be made with our Fleet to seek 
battle under circumstances unfavourable to the enemy. Of course, 
if a favourable occasion for battle presented itself before, it must 
be exploited. Further, operations against enemy merchant ships 
were to be conducted in accordance with Prize Court regulations, 
and the ships appointed to carry out such operations in foreign 
waters were to be sent out as soon as possible. 

The order underlying this plan of campaign was this: The 
Fleet must strike when the circumstances are favourable; it must 
therefore seek battle with the English Fleet only when a state of 
equality has been achieved by the methods of guerilla warfare. 

It thus left the Commander-in-Chief of the High Sea Fleet free- 
dom of action to exploit any favourable opportunity and put no 
obstacles in his way, but it required of him that he should not 
risk the whole Fleet in battle until there was a probability of victory. 
Moreover, it started from the assumption that opportunities would 
arise of doing the enemy damage when, as was to be expected, 
he initiated a blockade of the German Bight which was in accord- 
ance with the rules of International Law. It is also to be emphasised { 
that a submarine offensive was only required "whenever possible."! 
The achievements of our U-boats absolutely exceeded all expecta-/ 
tions, thanks to the energy with which the command faced the mosfr* 
difficult problem and the resolution of the commanders and crewsji 
on their own initiative, to do more than was required of them. 

As regards operations in the Baltic, the War Orders to the 
Commander-in-Chief of the High Sea Fleet contained no instruc- 
tions, as a special Commander-in-Chief had been appointed for 
this area. If the English Fleet tried to carry the war into the 
Baltic, the condition precedent (a favourable opportunity for attack) 
laid down in the War Orders to the High Sea Fleet would materialise 
in the simplest fashion. 




ON August 2 the Commander-in-Chief had summoned all the 
commanders of the three battleship squadrons, cruisers, de- 
stroyers and submarines to the flagship, and there explained to them 
the task set in the War Orders and his intentions with regard to it- 
Instructions had just been received from the Naval Staff that on 
the express wish of the Foreign Office no hostile action should be 
taken against English warships and merchant ships, as all hope of 
England's neutrality had not yet been abandoned. In his desire 
to keep England out of the war the Imperial Chancellor had gone 
so far as to enter into an obligation, through our ambassador in 
London, not to conduct operations in the Channel or against the 
north coast of France if England remained neutral. In this way 
she would be released from her own obligation to protect the north 
coast of France with the English Fleet. The same day, however, 
we received subsequent instructions that the English cable com- 
munications with the Continent had been broken off, and that we 
had to anticipate hostile action on the part of England. 

How universal was the conviction that the English Navy would 
immediately take the offensive is illustrated by the fact that after 
the conference with the Commander-in-Chief the Commander of 
Squadron I advised me very strongly to take Squadron II to the 
Elbe during the night, instead of waiting till next morning as had 
been arranged, as otherwise we might arrive too late. However, 
we adhered to the original decision to take up the anchorage 
appointed for us in the Elbe the next day (August 3), and, as the 
necessary precautions were taken by sending a mine-sweeping 
division ahead, the movement was carried out without any mishap. 

To take up its anchorage in the Altenbruch Roads, between 
Cuxhaven and Brunsbuttel, Squadron II had to pass through the 
minefield which had meanwhile been laid at the mouth of the 
Elbe. In this river there was a dangerous congestion of vessels 
which were trying to get out as fast as they could. Among them 
were some English steamers which would not pay attention to 


Awaiting the Enemy's Offensive 

the warnings of the pilot ship, so that there was a dangerous crush 
in this difficult and narrow channel. The English steamer Wilfred 
paid for its temerity by running on the mines and was sunk by two 
explosions following closely on each other. We thus had an 
opportunity of observing a practical demonstration of the eflfect of 
mines. After this occurrence the Commandant of the fortress of 
Cuxhaven, who was responsible for the security of the estuary, 
gave orders that all ships were to be sent back to Hamburg so that 
their knowledge of the position of the minefield should not be turned 
to the advantage of the enemy. 

The next day brought us the English declaration of war. A 
few hours later the first English submarine was reported in the 
German Bight. The security of the Heligoland Bight required 
prompt information of the enemy's intentions so that we could meet 
him in strength with our naval forces without ourselves suffering 
from the enemy's counter-^measures on our way out. This object 
could be attained by submarines or mine-layers of which the latter 
could slip out under cover of darkness and sow the exits from the 
estuaries with mines. We had also to expect that floating mines 
would be sown in the mouths of the rivers with a view to their drifting 
up stream with the tide and endangering our ships lying at anchor. 
We knew of one type of English mine which drifted with the rising 
tide only, sank to the bottom when the tide ebbed and then rose 
again and floated farther up stream. Mines of this kind would have 
been aBle to get much farther — in fact to the anchorage of our ships 
— instead of drifting backwards and forwards in a limited area 
through the action of ebb and flow, and thereby being stranded in 
due course. 

We had also to anticipate that enemy submarines would penetrate 
into the rivers. Although the depth of water was not great the 
passage of submarines, when submerged, was by no means im- 
possible. It was only later, when the depth charge had been evolved, 
that submarines needed greater depth to escape their effect. Even 
if the enemy shrank somewhat from such venturesome enterprises 
as these, it was enough for him to haunt the neighbourhood of the 
estuaries to operate against our big ships the moment we attempted 
to gain the open sea. 

It is true that we had two types of protection against these 
dangerous possibilities; first, the initiation of technical defence 
measures such as mines, nets and so forth, and secondly, the 
sharpest lookout oa the part of the ships engaged in observation 


Germany's High Sea Fleet 

duties. If the enemy tried to bring on an action in the neighbour- 
hood of Heligoland — and we assumed he would — ^we suffered from 
the outset under a disadvantage if we had to deploy for it out of 
the estuaries. The narrow exits from the Elbe and the Jade 
prescribed the line of deployment and compelled the ships to follow 
in line ahead, a formation which provides splendid opportunities 
for lurking submarines. For this reason prompt knowledge of the 
enemy's approach as well as his strength was of particular importance 
in enabling us to go out and meet him in the open sea with the 
necesary forces. In the first days of August we attained such a 
state (rf preparedness that all the big ships were kept under steam 
all day, ready to weigh anchor at any moment. We could not 
concentrate in the outer roads because the submarine obstructions 
had not yet been laid. 

The time from the receipt of a report about the enemy to the 
issue of the appropriate orders, and then again from the first 
execution of those orders to the arrival at the appointed rendezvous 
at sea, was not inconsiderable. According to the state of readiness 
of the ships and the choice of anchorage it might take hours, during 
which the enemy would continue his approach unimpeded. Thus 
arose the necessity of getting the report as soon as possible. But 
the greater the distance from Heligoland of the arc which had to 
be covered by our reconnaissance and observation patrols, the less 
carefully could it be watched. The greater distance either demanded 
more ships or involved less reliable information when the line was 
held too thinly. 

The use of wireless telegraphy came in extraordinarily handy 
for intelligence purposes. Unfortunately a large number of the 
older destroyers which had now been attached to the mine^weeping 
division had not yet been fitted with this highly ingenious piece of 
equipment. The result was that in certain circumstances very 
valuable time might be lost. 

The establishment of a protective system was entrusted to the 
Commander of the scouting forces, Vice-Admiral Hipper, and all 
the destroyer flotillas, U-boats, mine^weeping divisions, aero- 
planes and airships were placed under his orders. From these 
forces a protective zone was formed which by day consisted of 
several circles at varying distances from the lightship "Elbe I." 
The outermost line, 35 nautical miles (of 1,852 metres) was 
held by destroyers. Six nautical miles behind there were 
submarines, and a further six miles back the inmost line was 


Awaiting the Enemy's Offensive 

patrolled by mine-sweeping divisions. Two to four light cruisers 
were distributed behind the two wings of this protective zone, east 
and south of Heligoland. At night the U-boats and the destroyers 
on the outermost line were withdrawn, and only the inner one was 
held. The result of this was that we had all the more destroyers at 
hand for nocturnal enterprises. 

This whole system, however, was more useful for protection 
than for reconnoitring. It did not extend far enough for the latter 
purpose. Even if the approach of serious enemy forces at a distance 
of fifteen miles was reported from the outermost line, these ships, 
by steaming at full speed, could be within range of the fortress 
of Heligoland in about an hour and a half. In that time only the 
ships lying in the outer Jade could gain the open sea. The ships 
lying in the Elbe at Cuxhaven or in the Wilhelmshaven Roads in the 
Jade needed longer. If we had depended on this system alone we 
should have found ourselves in the condition either of being 
surprised by the enemy and having to meet him in insufficient 
strength, or having to keep the whole Fleet in a perpetual state of 
readiness. The latter alternative was impossible in the long run. 
The duties of the destroyers and cruisers in the protective zone and 
the necessity of relieving them every few days (for the strain of this 
anxious service on the personnel at sea would otherwise have worn 
them out) absorbed such a large force of light units that their princi- 
pal task of seeking out and attacking the enemy far away in the North 
Sea before he got to close quarters with us was seriously affected. 

Our axnmanders were therefore faced with a many-sided problem 
which was made more difficult by the limited resources at our 
disposal : to avoid any chance of surprise, to prevent the safety 
of the Bight being endangered by mines or submarines in such a 
way that the Fleet would not have the necessary freedom of move- 
ment to get out of harbour, and finally to seek out the enemy 
himself in the North Sea and do him as much damage as possible 
by guerilla operations. It was, therefore, a very proper decision 
to entrust all these tasks to one commander who had to make his 
dispositions with an eye to wind and weather, breakdowns, injuries 
and the absences these involve, and question of coaling, as well as 
the multifarious duties laid upon him. In view of the relatively little 
bunker capacity of the smaller ships, it was continuously necessary to 
replenish supplies. Their ships' companies also suffered from heavy 
weather far more than those of the big ships, and therefore required 
relief sooner. 



Germany's High Sea Fleet 

Nor was it a simple matter 40 regulate the system of transmission 
of orders and intelligence by wireless in such a way as to be certain 
of getting messages accurately and promptly, and avoiding confu- 
sion through the operations of other stations, especially such as were 
in a different sphere of command. 

In our situation aeroplanes and airships played a particularly 
important part. Unfortunately, their number was very OTiall at the 
start. Heligoland was fitted up as an aviation station, but at first 
disposed of only five aeroplanes. The number was subsequently 
increased to eight. In the early days we had only the one airship, 
"L 3," for distance reconnaissance. The most zealous eflForts were 
made to cruise in all kinds of weather, and so praiseworthy was 
the persistence shown that these cruises often extended to within sight 
of the Norwegian coast. 

Side by side with the organisation of the protective zone, the 
organisation of the defences of the North Sea islands, the most 
important of which was Heligoland, was completed under the direc- 
tion of the Headquarters of the North Sea Naval Stations, Vice- 
Admiral von Krosigk, at Wilhelmshaven. It was also the duty of 
this authority to carry out the evacuation of the native population, 
who did not at all like leaving their island, and arranging their 
transfer to the mainland. They had been previously prepared for this 
eventuality, and their transport presented no special difficulties. 
The establishment of minefields and the substitution of buoys to 
mark the war channels for those of the peace-time channels was 
also the business of the Naval Stations Headquarters. 

Another of its duties was the removal of landmarks which could 
be seen far out to sea, and would thus be known to the enemy and 
might enable him to find his bearings. 

One victim of this bitter necessity was the venerable old church 
tower of Wangeroog, the island adjacent to the Jade channel. From 
time immemorial it had been an object of affectionate familiar! ly to 
seafarers. It had stood so long that the whole island had 
gradually slid past beneath its feet, in consequence of the movement 
from west to east which is peculiar to the sands of the North Sea. 
It was now so close to the west side of the island that its walls were 
washed by the waves. 

Harbour flotillas were formed to watch the minefields and guard 
the entrances to our own rivers. These flotillas were within the 
sphere of action of the fortresses, and therefore were likewise under 
the command of the Naval Stations Headquarters. The release of the 


Awaiting the Enemy's OflFensive 

Fleet from such duties definitely proved a sound idea,* and thanks 
to the understanding and co-operation of all services, all further 
requirements which cropped up as time went by were generously 


The organisation of the lightship system was of great import- 
ance. As soon as war threatened, all the lights in the lightships 
were extinguished, and the light-buoys removed, so that the whole 
coast was in darkness. It was impossible to do without lights 
at night altogether when cruising by the dangerous North Sea coast 
and navigating the strong current oflF the mouths of the Elbe, Weser 
and Ems. Further, lights that were easily recognisable had to be 
shown to indicate the position of the minefields and the channels 
through them. Yet in spite of the difficulties of navigation, dark- 
ness had the immense advantage that it enabled us to slip out un- 
noticed, and therefore without great risk, so that night time was 
preferred for such operations. Of course, the lights must not be 
shown a moment longer than was necessary for the purposes of 
navigation. Further, it must be possible for incoming ships to 
show their lights and be safe against any tricks on the part of the 
enemy. The main thing was that the light should be shown 
exactly at the right moment. The outer lightships at the mouths 
of the Jade and Elbe, which also served as observation stations and 
had military personnel, certainly had no easy task in the long and 
stormy nights of the four and a half years' war. We depended on 
their reliability just as much as on that of all the other posts which 
existed to assist the navigation of our Fleet, whether the safety 
of a single steamer or that of a whole squadron was at stake. 
Special thanks are due to the officers of the Imperial Pilot 
Service and its chief. Commander Krause. They were always 
reliable advisers to the commanders of squadrons and ships. 

Our view of the whole situation and the War Orders issued to 
the Fleet made it imperative to get at the outset data as to the 
movements of the enemy. While the North Sea islands and the 
estuaries were being put into a state of defence, tfie primary require- 
ment was security against surprise. The battleship squadron and 
battle-cruisers (at their anchorages) used these few days to prepare 
for action. With Squadron II, in the construction of whose ships 
less importance had been attached to the use of fireproof material 
than in the later ships, it was a question of removing everything that 
was dangerous from that point of view and could at all be dispensed 
with. This had a very adverse effect on the comfort of the ward- 

Germany's High Sea Fleet 

rooms and cabins as well as the men's quarters, in which all the 
wooden beams were removed from the thin sheet-iron partitions 
as well as the sides of the ship. 

The removal of wooden chairs, tables, curtains, tablecloths, easy 
chairs and such like, the scraping off of paint which was too thick, 
the transfer of clothes and supplies of all kinds to the ^ace under 
the armoured decks where they could not easily be goit at, took up 
a lot of time and produced a good deal of noise and discontent. 
However, the work of destruction was carried out with as much 
devotion as if it were the enemy himself who was being destroyed, 
and in the certain expectation that we should not have to wait long 
for the actual meeting. 

Although in peace time everything possible had been thought 
of which might prove useful or necessary in the emergencies of 
action, there were always fresh possibilities of perfecting measures 
and preparing for all conceivable occurrences with things such as 
rafts, steel nets, anchor cables, lifebelts, and so on. As the Flag 
Officers of the squadron passed from ship to ship in order to super- 
vise the work that was in progress and make further suggestions, 
they noted what seemed to them useful on any particular ship and 
handed the information on to the others. 

In this work were associated the newly-joined seamen ratings, 
mostly reservists, who had served on the same ships not long before, 
and among whom I recognised many old acquaintances, for, with 
the exception of a break of one year, I had been with the Fleet con- 
tinuously since 1907. My pleasure at meeting them again was 
mingled with a feeling of pride at the sight of the manly, healthy, 
and robust figures which had developed out of the former recruits 
or ordinary seamen. It went to my heart to see with what a straight- 
forward sense of duty these men, whose resolve to stand on their 
own feet through industry and efficiency was plain to the eyes, had 
left behind them everything they loved and cherished in order to be 
present when the day came to meet the foe. 

We spent the first days of suspense and expectation in this 
essential work. The opening days of the war gained a particular 
interest from the varying reports of home-coming steamers or our 
patrols, the series of false alarms about aeroplanes and submarines, 
firing at night, or .the showing of lights in improbable directions, 
the explosion of mines in shallow spots in the Elbe (phenomena 
which subsequently found a natural explanation, though at first 
attributed to enemy activity), our isolation from all human inter- 


Awaiting the Enemy's Offensive 

course — although we could see the cows grazing peacefully on the 
banks of the Elbe 300 yards away— ^nd the organisation of the 
watches. In the further distance there was no visible sign of any 
change in the wonted scenes of peace, for there was still a lively 
movement of ships in the Elbe, and every incoming German 
steamer had a particularly warm welcome for having succeeded in 
getting safely home. But the wireless m.essages flashing to and 
fro might at any moment summon us out to meet the foe. 

Preparations for the offensive were not neglected during the days 
in which England was making up her mind what her attitude was 
to be, and when at 7.47 p.m. on August 4 we received the message, 
"Prepare for war with England," we also heard the order to theauxili- 
ary cruiser Kronprina Friedrich Wilhelm to put to sea immediately. 
At 9.30 P.M. the auxiliary minelayer TConigin Luise also left the Ems 
on the way to the Thames estuary. Thus began the first essay in 
cruiser warfare and the introduction of guerilla operations on the 
English coast. In the wireless room of the Flagship we listened 
hopefully for further news of the progress of the first two enter- 
prises against the enemy. Would the great ocean greyhound be 
forced back, or would she succeed in getting unchallenged into the 
ocean? She remained dumb, and that could justly be taken as a 
favourable sign. 

The wireless message to the Konigin Luise had run'': "Make for 
sea in Thames direction at top speed. Lay mines near as possible 
English coasts, not near neutral coasts, and not farther north than 
Lat 53®." The task assigned to the Konigin Luise gave little 
ground for the hope that she could escape the watchfulness of the 
English; but, with a supreme contempt of death, the ship, under 
the command of Commander Biermann, held on her way. The 
steamer which usually plied in summer to the watering-places of the 
North Sea islands was engaged about 11 a.m. next morning by 
enemy cruisers and destroyers, and was sunk by a torpedo. 

She had had time to sow her mines, however, with the result 
that the cruiser 'Amphion (3,500 tons, launched 191 1), which was 
pursuing her, fell a victim to them and followed the Konigin Luise 
to the bottom with a loss of 131 men. Thus the first day of the 
war (August 5) had brought losses to both sides, and the first attack 
on the English coast had been a success for us. 

However, the sacrifice it had involved had not been incurred 
in vain. It was not merely that it had cost the enemy a new 
cruiser. Far more im;>ortant was the impression that this proof 

i> 33 

Germany's High Sea Fleet 

of a bold spirit of enterprise must have made on friend and foe 
alike. The situation at the outset thus appeared in such a light 
that in view of these aggressive operations the enemy thought 
that he could best protect himself by withdrawing to northern waters, 
and did not take the other alternative of closing our sally ports 
himself. Throughout the whole war not a single mine was sown 
in our estuaries, notwithstanding the thousands upon thousands 
which were employed in the open waters of the North Sea. 

As the next few days passed without incident, and aeroplanes 
and airships had made no discoveries, while incoming steamers 
reported that English battleships were only to be seen at a great 
distance (by Aberdeen) from the German Bight, our business was 
now to discover the whereabouts of the enemy and get to close 
quarters with him if we were to bring about an equalisation of 
strength. For this purpose we had at our disposal the destroyers 
and submarines which could be spared from the defensive 
organisation of the Heligoland Bight. 

Commander Bauer, in command of the U-boats, was con- 
vinced that the defensive employment of submarines in a narrow 
circle round Heligoland was useless, as there was only a slight 
probability that the enemy would approach so close, and even if he 
did it was doubtful whether the boats would get a chance to shoot. 
The necessity of perpetually coming in and going out of the har- 
bour of Heligoland, a difficult process in view of the methods 
employed in the defensive system, led to a useless strain on the 
material and injury to the boats. He therefore represented to the 
Commander-in-Chief of the Fleet that only the offensive use of 
U-boats could bring about a change. The number of boats 
employed must certainly be larger, but the prospects of success 
would be greater still. 

The justice of this argument was recognised, and a decision was 
taken which was extremely important for the further course of the 
war. Nor was there much hesitation in carrying it into execution, 
for the U-boats received orders to proceed on August 6 against 
English battleships, the presence of which was suspected in the 
North Sea. These ships were supposed to be about 200 nautical miles 
from Heligoland and charged with the duty of intercepting some 
of our battleships which ought to be on their way from Kiel round 
Skagen into the North Sea because the passage of the Kaiser 
Wilhelm Canal presented too great difficulties Ten U-boats 
were assigned to this enterprise, and six days were allowed for it. 


Awaiting the Enemy's Offensive 

This cruise was to carry the ships across the entire North Sea 
and as far north as the Orkneys. The boats were left to their own 
devices, as the cruisers Hamburg and Stettin, parent ships of the 
U-boat flotilla, could, of course, not accompany it the whole 
way. They were only to cover the first run of the boats, a hundred 
miles or so, and endeavour to draw off any enemy light craft 
from the U-boats in the direction of Heligoland. The sub- 
marines themselves were not to pay any attention to such ships, as 
their goal was the enemy battleships. It was only for the return 
journey that the boats were left a free hand to do the enemy all 
the damage they could. The weather being thick and rainy, and 
the visibility poor, was not favourable for the enterprise, and indica- 
tions pointed to its becoming worse. As the latter eventuality did 
not materialise, however, the commander gave the order to put to 

In so great an area, and taking into account the rapid changes 
which experience shows may be expected, it is very difficult to fore- 
cast the weather in the North Sea. The decision was, therefore, 
a Brilliant tribute to the fiery enthusiasm of the new weapon, which 
had never been faced with a task of such magnitude in peace. The 
course was to be taken in such a way that the submarines, in line 
ahead with seven-mile intervals between them, first negotiated a 
stretch of 300 nautical miles in a north-westerly direction, tihen 
turned and went back to a line directly between Scapa Flow and 
Stavanger, which they were to reach about seventy-two hours after 
putting to sea. They were to remain on this line until 6 o'clock in 
the evening of the next day — in all about thirty-nine hours — ^and 
then return to Heligoland. One boat had to return when 225 
nautical miles from Heligoland, on account of trouble in her Diesel 
engines. Two others, commanded by Lieutenant-Commanders 
Count Schweinitz and Pohle, were lost. All the rest carried out 
their allotted task and were back by August 1 1 . 

Nothing was seen of the enemy, with the exception of a four- 
funnelled cruiser which emerged out of the mist for a short time. 
All that was known of the lost boats was that one of them was still 
in wireless communication early on August 8. On the 9th the region 
in which the U-boats were lying was shrouded in mist, and 
the wind was blowing with force 6. It was only on August 15 
that we learnt thait a large part of the English Fleet had been 
in the same area and had there destroyed six German herring- 
boats after taking their crews on board. Fog and the amount of 


Germany's High Sea Fleet 

sea that wind of a force 6 means are the most unfavourable condi- 
tions conceivable for a submarine, in view of the fact that the 
conning-tower is so low down in the water. It is to be assumed 
that the missing boats had been surprised by English cruisers in 
weather of this kind and rammed before they had time to dive. 

It was certainly regrettable that at the very moment of meet- 
ing the English Fleet was protected by mist, that two of our boats 
had fallen victims, and that this first enterprise, so smartly carried 
out, had not been crowned by the success it deserved. The loss of 
two boats had no depressing effect whatever on the crews. It rather 
increased, their determination to do even better. 

The course of this six-day cruise cleared the way for the further 
'exploitation of the U-boat weapon, the great importance of which 
lay in it$ power of endurance and its independence, two character- 
istics which appeared at their true value for the first time in this 
cruise under war conditions. In these two respects the U-boats 
were superior to all surface vessels in the Fleet. The destroyers, in 
particular, were not to be compared with them for their ability 
to remain at sea. Their fuel capacity was too small for that pur- 
pose, and when going at high speed the consumption of coal 
increased out of all proportion. Further, as the big ships needed 
the co-operation of the smaller as submarine-screens and mine- 
sweepers, these, too, were dependent on their smaller consorts for 
the length of time they could remain at sea, especially when they 
were in areas in which regard had to be paid to the submarine 

Our naval operations took a decisive turn as a result of this 
cruise, and though the change was gradually introduced, it dates 
from this enterprise. For that reason it has been described in rather 
more detail than would be justified, seeing that a tangible success 
was not achieved. The first proof of the ability of the submarine 
to remain at sea for a long time had been given, and progress was 
made along the lines I have mentioned, thanks to the greatest per- 
severance, so that the submarine, from being merely a coastal- 
defence machine, as was originally planned, became the most effec- 
tive long-range weapon. 

The other splendid quality of the submarine is its independence, 
by which I mean that it is not dependent on the support and co- 
operation of ships or craft of other types. Whilst a force of surface 
ships comprises various classes, according to the presumed strength 
of the enemy, the submarine needs no help to attack, and in defence 


Awaiting the Enemy's Offensive 

is not so dependent on speed as the surface ships, as it has a sure 
protection in its ability, to diye. This again increases its radius of 
action, for whereas a surface ship, meeting a superior enemy, has 
no other resource but to make use of its speed — and that means a 
large consumption of fuel— diving means a very great eccmomy in 
engine-power. In the submarine there is no question of driving 
the engines too hard in such a situation, as the boat can escape 
from the enemy by diving. The engines need not therefore be 
constructed to stand perpetual changes of speed. 

It is not surprising that the special importance of these technical 
advantages was not recognised until the war came, for«they first 
came to light thanks to the energy of the personnel, who seemed to 
despise all di£ficulties, although going to sea in these small craft' 
involves incredible personal discomforts of all kinds. The advan- 
tages of the submarine service first became of practical value through 
the fact that human strength of will brought men voluntarily to dis- 
play such endurance as was shown in our boats. Patriotism was 
the motive-power of the ships' companies. 

The fact that an English offensive did not materialise in the first 
weeks of the war gave cause for reflection, for with every day's grace 
the enemy gave us he was abandoning some of the advantage of his 
earlier mobilisation, while our coast defences were improved. The 
sweep of light-cruisers and destroyers which, starting out star-wise 
from Heligoland, had scoured the seas over a circumference of about 
loo sea miles had produced nothing. Yet while the U-boats 
were on that cruise to the north which has already been discussed, 
four other U-boats went on a patrol about 200 miles west, until 
they were on a level with the Thames estuary. They discovered 
several lines of destroyers patrolling on about Lat. 52% but of 
larger ships nothing was seen. The impression must have been 
forced on the Commander-in-Chief, as indeed all of us, that the 
English Fleet was following a strategic plan other than that with 
which we were inclined to credit it. It appeared probable that «the 2nd 
and 3rd Fleets were concentrated to protect the transport of troops 
in the English Channel. 

The bulk of the ist English Fleet must be supposed to be in the 
northern part of the North Sea, to which our light forces had not 
yet penetrated. Further, we had not yet heard anything from the 
ten U-boats sent out in that direction, so apparently they too 
had seen nothing. Should we now attempt to bring the English 
ist Fleet to action ? We had at our (disposal 1 3 *\ Dreadnoughts." 


Germany's High Sea Fleet 

8 older battleships, 4 battle-cruisers (counting in Blucker)^ a few 
light cruiserSy and 7 destroyer flotillas. With these the Commander- 
in-Qiief intended to give battle, with full confidence in victory. 
What held him back was the reflection that the whereabouts ot the 
I St English Fleet was absolutely unknown, and it was therefore 
questionable whether it could be found in the time at our disposal — 
which could not be more than two days and nights on account of the 
fuel capacity of the destroyers. In the meantime, the German Bight 
would be without any protection against minelaying and other enter- 
prises, and there would be no flank protection on the west. On the 
other hand, our ships might suffer losses horn the operations of 
enemy submarines, for which there would be no onnpensation in the 
way of victory if the English Fleet were not found. We knew from 
various sources that we had to reckon with English submarines. 
Such an attempt was therefore abandoned, and in its place a series 
of patrolling and minelaying operations were set on foot which 
carried the war right to the English coast in the following 

With this decision began the trying period of waiting for the 
battleship squadrons, and a start was made with the operations 
intended to equalise the opposing forces, operations which, apart 
from mine successes, rested on the anticipation that our destroyers 
would find opportunities for attack in their nocturnal raids. The 
lack of scouts — ^for the new battle-cruisers Seydlits, Moltke, and 
Von der Tann could not be put to such uses if they were to be held 
ready for battle — made it essential that U-boats should be employed 
on reconnaissance duties. 

As early as August 14 new tasks were assigned to the U-boats 
which had returned from their cruise to the West on the nth; 
and, indeed, the boats under the command of Lieutenant-Com- 
manders Gayer and Hersing were to cross the North Sea from 
the Norwegian Coast (by Egersund) in the direction of Peterhead, 
while a third U-boat (Hoppe) observed the English forces pat- 
rolling before the Humber with a view to securing data for mine- 
laying. They brought valuable information about the enemy's 
defensive measures, but they had not seen any large ships. The 
length of time they had spent under water was remarkable. For 
instance, Gayer's ship had been compelled by destroyers to 
remain under water six and a quarter hours on August 16, eleven 
and three-quarters on the 17th, and eleven and a quarter on 
the i8th. 


Awaiting the Enemy's Oftensive 

Let us now cast a glanoe at the chances for attack which pre- 
sented themselves to the enemy. It could not possibly be unknown 
to him that the German Fleet was concentrated in the North Sea. 
The reports of spies from Holland and Denmark could not have 
left any doubt about that. If the English Fleet made a demonstra- 
tion against Sylt or the East Frisian Islands it would have compelled 
our Fleet to come out of the estuaries unless we were prepared to 
allow them a bombardment without retaliation, and they would thus 
have an opportunity of using their submarines which were patrolling 
at the mouths of the Jade and Elbe. A success for their submarines 
would be satisfaction enough for them if we did not follow them 
out to sea. They could arrange their approach in sudi a way that 
they took up a favourable position in the early morning hours to 
offer battle to our fleet as it came up, or if they appeared with only 
part of their forces they could promptly retire before a superior 
German force and limit themselves to the operations of their sub- 
marines. The only danger in such an attack lay in the possibility 
of a nocturnal meeting with our destroyers. This danger was not 
to be overestimated, as the English could plan their entrance into 
the German Bight in such a way that our destroyers, which were 
dependent on darkness, would be already on their way back to the 
Bight at the time the enemy was approaching. Further, no very 
serious danger was to be anticipated from «our U-boats, as most 
of them were away on distant enterprises. 

The English High Command, however, must have had a much 
higher estimate of the damage our destroyers and U-boats could 
do than was actually the case. It appears also that their confidence 
in the achievements of their own submarines, which were the founda- 
tion for the execution of any such plan, was not very great. At 
the outset, therefore, considerations prevailed on both sides which 
led the Commands to hold back their fleets from battle. The over- 
estimate of the submarine danger played a most important r61e. 

The German Commander-in-Chief, Admiral von Ingenohl, gave 
expression to his view of the general situation on August 14 in the 
following Order of the Day : — 

"All the information we have received about the English 
naval forces points to the fact that the English Battle Fleet 
avoids the North Sea entirely and keeps far beyond range of our 
own forces. The sweep of our brave U-boats beyond the 
Lat. 60^ in the north and as far as the entrance to the English 


Germany's High Sea Fleet 

Channel in the south, as well as the raids of our destroyers and 
aeroplanes, have confinned this information. Only between the 
Norwegian and Scottish coasts and off the entrance to the 
English Channel are English forces patrolling. Otherwise in 
the rest of the North Sea not a single English ship has been 
found hitherto. 

"This behaviour on the part of our enemy forces us to the 
conclusion that he himself intends to avoid the losses he fears 
he may suflfer at our hands and to compel us to come with our 
battleships to his coast and there fall a victim to his mines and 

" We are not going to oblige our enemy thus. But they must, 
and will, come to us some day or other. And then will be the 
day of reckoning. On that day of reckoning we must be there 
with all our battleships. 

"Our immediate task is therefore to cause our enemy losses 
by all the methods of guerilla warfare and at every point where 
we can find him, so that we can thus compel him to join battle 
with us. 

"This task will fall primarily to our light forces (U-boats, 
destroyers, mine-layers and cruisers) whose prospects of success 
increase the darker and longer the nights become. 

"The bold action of our mine-layer Konigin Luise, which 
did the enemy material damage before she came to her glorious 
end, and the audacious cruises of our U-boafts have already 
made a beginning. Further enterprises will follow. 

" The duty of those of us in the battleships of the Fleet is to 
keep this, our main weapon, sharp and bright for the decisive 
battle which we shall have to fight. To that end we must work 
with unflinching devotion to get our ships perfectly ready in 
every respect, to think out and practise everything that can 
be of the slightest help and prepare for the day on which the 
High Sea Fleet will be permitted to engage a numerically superior 
enemy in battle for our beloved Emperor who has created 
this proud Fleet as a shield for our dear Fatherland, in full 
confidence in the eflBciency which we have acquired by 
unflagging work in time of peace. 

"The test of our patience, which the conduct of the enemy 
imposes upon is, is hard, having regard to the martial spirit 
which animates all our ships' companies as it animates our army 
also, a spirit which impels us to instant action. 


Awaiting the Enemy's 0£fensive 

''The moment the enemy comes within our range he shall 
find us waiting for him. Yet we must not let him prescribe 
the time and place for us but ourselves choose what is favourable 
for a complete victory. 

"It is therefore our duty not to lose patience but to hold 
ourselves ready at all times to profit by the favourable moment." 




THE nightly cruises from the foremost patrol line by Heligoland 
were continued and extended. On August 12 the light cruisers 
Koln (Flagship of the First Flag OfiBcer of the destroyer flotillas, 
Rear-Admiral Maass) and Hamburg went out with Flotilla VI; 
Koln and Stuttgart with Flotillas I and II on the isth, 
and the light cruiser Mainz with the Flotilla VIII on the i6th. As 
no enemy was met on any of these enterprises the light cruisers 
Stralsund (Captain Harder) and Strassburg (Captain Retzmann) 
were sent out to the Hoofden against the destroyer patrol line, the 
existence of which had been reported by submarines. 

They put to sea on the morning of August 1 1 with two U-boats, 
which stood by near Vlieland while the cruisers steamed south to 
about the line Lowestoft — Scheveningen. When this was reached 
they turned, early on the morning of the i8th. Shortly afterwards 
the Strassburg sighted three enemy submarines, distant aboirt 
100 hm. (i 1,000 yards). These were fired on and one of them seemed 
to be hit. Soon after eight destroyers were sighted in a northerly 
direction and a light cruiser with another eight destroyers in an 
easterly direction, which were in a position to cut off the retreat 
of our cruisers. The range, howeyer, did not fall below 100 hm., 
so that no success was obtained on either side. The possibility 
that there might be other English forces not far off seemed to 
make it imperative for our ships not to lose time in manoeuvring 
for attack, for the sixteen destroyers of the enemy had an immense 
preponderance of gun-power oyer our cruisers armed only with 
10.5 cm. guns. Both cruisers returned home without trouble. 

In the second half of August the number of reports of sub- 
marines sighted at the mouth of the Ems and in the Heligoland 
Bight increased, and very heavy demands were made on the 
destroyers to drive them out. On August 21 the light cruisers 
Rostock and Strassburg with Flotilla VI made a sweep in the 
direction of the Ctogger Bank with a view to searching the fishing- 
grounds for English fishing-smacks. They also met enemy sub- 
marines, one of which fired two torpedoes at the Rostock, but 


The English Break into the Heligoland Bight 

both missed. On this cruise six fishing-steamers were destroyed 
which were found, well separated, in a circle round Heligoland, and 
were suspected of working with English submarines. 

As all these cruises pointed to the conclusion that we could 
not expect to find considerable enemy forces in the southern half 
of the North Sea, our two mine-laying cruisers, Albatros (Com- 
mander West) and Nautilus (Commander Wilhelm Schultz) received 
orders to lay a minefield at the mouths of the Humber and Tyne. 
By day their operations were covered by a light cruiser and a 
half-flotilla of destroyers, as mine-layers must be kept out of action 
if at all possible. Both ships were able to carry out their commission 
undisturbed and laid their mines accurately at the places indicated. 
The actual work began at midnight and was favoured by thick 
weather. On the way back another six fishing-steamers were sunk. 

The previous raids had been favoured by luck inasmuch as the 
forces employed, which were anything but strong, had not been 
located and cut off by superior forces. Their safety lay in speed 
alone. Before support from units lying ready in the estuaries 
could reach them it might easily be too late. But for .that pur- 
pose it was considered inadvisable to have proper supporting forces 
hanging about in the Heligoland Bight on account of the submarines 
reported there. 

August 28th brought us the first serious collision with English 
cruisers. The reports taken back by the English submarines as to 
our offensive arrangements in the Heligoland Bight must have 
decided the English to roll up our patrol line. As the English 
dispatches on the events of this day have been published, a clear 
idea of the course of the action can be obtained (see plan, p. 44). 
My own observations from Squadron H, which lay in the Elbe, 
are confined to the wireless messages received. About nine o'clock 
in the morning the first of these came in. "In squares 142 and 131 
[that is 20 sea miles north-west of Heligoland] enemy cruisers and 
destroyers are chasing the 5th Flotilla." * 

The Stettin and ,Frauenlob (light cruisers) were sent out to help. 
Two floitillas of U-boats took up station for attack. The remaining 
wireless messages from nine o'clock in the morning to five in the 
afternoon gave the following picture : 

The ships which took part in the action comprised I>estroyer 

* Na'val cbarts are drawn squared, to simplify the location of pUures according to 
length and breadth, in degrees and minutes. This facilitates delivery of reports or 
oommands and the ideotincation of places on the chart. The size of the squares, a 
aide of which represents five or ten sea miles, is governed by the scale of the chart. 


Germany's High Sea Fleet 

Flotillas I and V, the light cruisers Mainz, Strassburg, Koln, 
Stralsund, Ariadne, Kolberg and Danzig, and two mine-sweeping 

On the enemy's side were several cruisers of the "Town '* class, 
armoured cruisers of the "Shannon '* type, four battle-cruisers under 
the command of Admiral Beatty in Lion^ and about thirty destroyers 
and eight submarines. 

The HeU^knd Bight BngagemMt, Au|ntt 28, 1914 

About six o'clock in the morning one of these submarines had 
fired two torpedoes, which missed, at a ship of Destroyer Flotilla 
I, which was retiring to the day patrol line. We had no other 
information on our side of the further doings of the English sub- 
marines on that day; the weather was thick, and as there was 
hardly any wind, visibility in the neighbourhood of Heligoland 
was only three to four miles. The upper part of the island was 
completely shrouded in mist. 


The English Break into the Heligoland Bight 

The marine artillery on the island saw nothing of the action 
which raged within range of the island in the morning. It was 
not possible for our battle-cruisers to put to sea before one o'clock 
owing to the state of the tide at the bar of the Outer Jade. Their 
intervention came too late. The orders which were issued by the 
Flag Officer of the German cruisers proceeded on the assump- 
tion that the same weather conditions prevailed outside as in 
the Jade, and the cruisers regarded the situation as such that 
they would be able to retire in time before a superior force. Un- 
fortunately this was not the case. Mainz and Koln, all unsuspecting, 
thus came upon English battle-cruisers and fell victims to their 
guns. Our plan of surrounding the English forces which had 
penetrated by cutting ofif their retreat to the west with Mainz, 
which was in the Ems, while other light cruisers barred the way 
in the north, was actually put into execution before a general view 
of the whole situation had made it feasible. 

Exceptionally high demands were made on the presence )of 
mind of the Flag Officers in command when they saw themselves 
faced with more powerful ships than they had expected. The battle- 
training of our light cruisers revealed a high standard of efficiency. 
In spite of the serious damage to the ships and heavy losses 
in personnel, the gun crews served their guns and overcame the 
confusion of action with exemplary calm and precision. The bold 
intervention of the other ships and the impulse to hasten to where 
the thunder of the guns called and bring help, cost us, in addition 
to the loss of 'Koln and M Ai^ gy the loss of the light cruiser 
Ariadne, which had been so damaged by fire that the men had to 
throw themselves overboard. The question was put whether it 
would have been of. any avail for our big ships to come out of the 
estuary. They could have had no success, and this is obvious enough 
in view of the prevailing low visibility. 

In the action between the cruisers and destroyers, the light 
cruiser Ariadne and the torpedo-boat "V 187/' leader of Flotilla I, 
were sunk on our side. Most of the skip's company of Ariadne 
were saved by Stralsund and Danzig, Half of that of "V 187 " were 
taken off by other ships of Flotilla I. 

"Wireless communication with 'Koln and Mainz has stopped. 
They are both sunk. Two cruisers (Strassburg and Stettin) are 
damaged as well as the torpedo-boats D8, V i and T 33. Many 
dead and wounded. Nothing known of English losses.*' 

After the first news arrived Squadron II was held ready to 


Germany's High Sea Fleet 

raise anchor in case battleships were required to go out in support. 
However, we received no order to intervene. 

The surprise of our patrols by the two English cruisers Aretkusa 
and Fearless, which were escorted by seventeen destroyers of the 
"I" class and fourteen of the ''L" class (according to English 
reports), was a success for the enemy. The intervention of our two 
light cruisers Siettin and Frauenlob limited the losses on our 
side to one torpedo-boat, "V 187." As soon as the news of the 
break-through of light forces was received all other available light 
cruisers were sent out to meet them. In the action that now fol- 
lowed Areihusa and Fearless were seriously damaged and had to 
call in the help of the very strong English force held ready in 
support and not yet employed. Its intervention put our cruisers 
in an evil plight. Very thick weather made a survey of the whole 
situation difficult. 

There are some who think that the way in which the light 
cruisers went out separately is open to criticism as a piece of temerity. 
With the safe withdrawal of Flotillas I and V and the driving off 
of the cruisers Areihusa and Fearless as the result of the prompt 
and resolute intervention of Stettin and Frauenlob, the English 
attack had lost the character of a surprise, and the plan, which 
involved a great show of force, had gained but a moderate success 
with the sinking of "V 187." On the other hand, was a bafRed 
enemy to be allowed to withdraw from the Heligoland Bight un- 
pursued in broad daylight ? 

Four weeks had passed before the first occasion had presented 
Itself of getting to close quarters with the enemy. Were our ships 
to content themselves, the first time enemy light forces appeared, 
with hiding in the estuaries and make no attempt to deal with 
the enemy, who might perhaps fall into our hands if he were badly 
damaged ? The Flag Officers and commanders would have incurred 
a serious reproach if they had neglected to make the attempt to get 
to close quarters with the enemy. If the impression of the first 
meeting had been a feeling of inferiority and the conviction that 
we could do nothing but retire before the English, it would have 
had an unhappy effect on the spirit of the ships' companies and 
the further course of the bperations. The effect produced was 
exactly the opposite, and we were all burning to avenge the slap 
in the face we had received. 

The disintegration of the engagement into a number of detached 
actions which were fought at close range, owing to the poor visi- 


The English Break into the Heligoland Bight 

bility, produced such remarkable examples of the presence of 
mind and contempt of death of our men that they deserve better 
than to sink into oblivion. I shall therefore give a few extracts 
from war diaries. 


(Drawn up by Lieutenant Jasper) 

"The Flotilla leader * V 187 * was on patrol (at 16 knots) about 
24 sea miles N.W. to W. of Heligpland on a W.N.W. course. 
Shortly after eight o'clock the ship on our right, * G 194 ' (Lieutenant- 
Commander Buss) reported : ' Am chased by enemy armoured 
cruiser.' We turned and made for * G 194.' At 8.20 a.m. in 
thick weather, two destroyers came in sight in N.W. about three 
miles off, and were reported to S.M.S. Koln by wireless. The 
ship bore S.E. to E. and put on speed. The destroyers were kept 
in sight. After a short time another four destroyers or cruisers 
were observed. Accurate observaition impossible owing to failing 
visibility. * V 187 ' now put on full speed and altered course for 

"Meanwhile an order from Koln to Flotillas I and V had been 
received, * Make for shelter of Heligoland.' Simultaneously, four 
dtetroyers, which stood between us and Heligoland, emerged from 
the mist on our port quarter about four degrees to 50 hm. away. At 
about 40 hm. ithey opened an intermittent fire. ' V 187 ' turned 
south and replied with her after 8.8 cm. gun. The destroyers' 
shooting was mostly very poor. Only at regular intervals one gun 
fired shells which passed close over our bridge. The Commander 
intended to make shooting difficult by altering course and reaching 
the Jadie or Ems at top speed. The ship ran 28 or 29 miles. The 
destroyers had only caught up a little and were now shooting at 
about 30 hm. Suddenly an enemy cruiser with four funnels 
appeared four points on our starboard bow. She apparently made 
a signal with her searchlight to * V 187 ' or her own destroyers. 
Immediately afterwards she fired a series of salvos at 35 to 40 hm. 
After the third salvo the shooting was good. As escape was no 
longer possible the officer in command decided to close. The 
whole ship's company with the exception of the stokers caught 
hold of firearms and lifebelts. ' V 187 ' ported her helm and tried 
to cut her way through. 



Germany's High Sea Fleet 

''The running action was fougju at 12 to 8 hm. The destroyers, 
apparently surprised, ceased fire at first, but then they subjected us 
to an extremely rapid fire. A shell fell close to the 8.8 cm. gun and 
put the crew out of action with the exception of a slightly wounded 
petty officer. The forward gun only fired a few rounds after that. 

"Another shell fell in stokehold 4 and penetrated the bunkers. 
Splinters wounded the stokers, the lights went out, the steam escaped 
and the boiler would not fill any more. 

"Simultaneously other shots and splinters fell on the bridge. I 
turned to starboard with a view to ramming the destroyer immedi- 
ately behind us and clearing our way past it. 

'^Hits now followed one another with rapid succession. Shells 
and splinters rainedl down, and the ship was completely shrouded in 
smoke and fumes. 

"The forward turbine was hit twice and stopped. Steam, mixed 
with black smoke, poured out of the hatches and ventilators. 
Boiler 2 was damaged and boiler i had also received hits. 
Some of the bridge personnel had fallen; the ship had little 
way on and was listing to port for no obvious reason. The officer 
in commandl, who had been seriously wounded, now gave the order 
to sink the ship. I took one of the four explosive charges which 
were on the bridge, set it and threw it in the forward turbine room. 
The bridge personnel put two others in the forward part of the 

"Meanwhile two other destroyers coming from the noPth had 
joined in the fight. After fixing up the charges I gave orders to 
leave the ship on the leeside of the firing. 

"I jumped overboard just before (according to my calculations) 
the charges would take effect. The rest of the gun crew of the after 
gun, which had continued firing to the last (among them Lieutenant 
Braune), sprang simultaneously into the water. The destroyers now 
ceased fire and sent out boats. Several men were picked up with 
lines and buoys. After a few minutes' swimming about I myself 
was picked up by an English boat. Just as I was getting in * V 187 ' 
went down by the bows. No one could be seen on deck. The 
boat had three other men of the ship's company of ' V 187 ' on 

"At that moment a German light cruiser (Stettin) opened fire 
on the destroyers. The English boat's crew went on board their 
destroyer. I refused to go on board with my three men as I did 
not want to be made prisoner. The English" destrover then started 


The English Break into the Heligoland Bight 

o£f at high speed. An English sailor had let go the hawser 
apparently in error. 

''I then hauled another sixteen survivors into my English boat. 

" Another English boat, under the command of an English officer, 
was left behind by <the destroyers in the evening. It had on board 
Lieutenant Braune and several survivors. 

"After a considerable time a partially submerged English sub- 
marine came from the east towards us. 

'*It came right up and took on board the English crew of one 
boat and Lieutenant Braune. At first I kept away from the sub- 
marine and took o£f my monkey jacket lest I should be recognised 
as an officer and taken prisoner. The submarine, which had the 
mark ' E 4 * on the bows and the number ' 84 ' (as well as ' E 4 ' 
again) on the conning tower, dived and disappeared, half submerged, 
in the west. 

"Another smaller Engjish boat, which had on board five more 
survivors of * V 187, ' now came up to me. The three boats then 
rowed for some considerable time in an E.S.E. direction towards the 
German patrol line. They were subsequently picked up by * G 4 * 
and * G 11.' The more severely wounded of our men were bandaged 
on board the destroyers while the boats were sunk. After the 
destroyers had picked up six dead and had tried to identify the 
spot at which * V 187 ' went down from the remains of charts and 
books, they proceeded to Heligoland. From there the six dead and 
forty-four survivors, the latter including seven severely and about 
twenty slightly wounded men, were brought to Wilhelmshaven in 
the steamer AmgasV 

The light cruiser Maim (Captain Wilhelm Pasche) was sunk on 
this day. According to the record made by the First Officer, 
Lieutenant Tholens, who was taken as a prisoner to England, the 
action developed as follows : 

"The order, * Maim immediately put to sea and take the reported 
English forces in the rear,' reached the ship at 10 a.m. in the Ems. 
Thanks to the previous wireless messages from the Wallis Flotilla, 
she had steam up in all her boilers and was ready for sea. Mainz 
could therefore put out immediately and develop full speed very 
quickly. A northerly course was taken at first to cut off the retreat 
of the enemy ships. The aeroplane at Borkum, which was placed 
at the ship's disposal, was sent on in the same direction. When the 
B 49 


Germany's High Sea Fleet 

ship started frcmi the Ems the weather was calm, the air clear and 
visibility good. The conditions for reconnaissance by the aero- 
plane appeared to be the best imaginable, but after a short flight 
it returned without any results to show. Meanwhile the Mainz 
had run into haze. This made a surprise by enemy forces possible. 
About half-past twelve the Arethusa^ with eigjit destroyers, appeared 
in N.E., moving on a westerly course and distant about 70 hm. To 
such a degree had visibility already decreased I 

"To bring the enemy under fire with the starboard guns we 
turned to port somewhat on a line of bearing N.N.W. Shortly 
after the first salvos, to which the enemy ships replied with some 
of his guns, the enemy turned off on a northerly course. The con- 
ditions for shooting were extremely unfavourable, as the enemy 
ships were very difficult to make out in the haze. All the same, 
several salvos were very well placed, and hits were certainly 
observed on two destroyers, one of which wrecked a bridge and 
put out of action everyone on it, including the commander. With 
a view to keeping the enemy in sight. Maim herself gradually 
turned on a northerly course. At 12.45 masses of smoke were 
suddenly reported in N.W., and a few minutes later revealed three 
cruisers of the * Birmingham ' class. Mainz immediately turned 
hard to starboard, and even as she turned the salvos of the new 
enemy fell around her, and a few minutes later she received the 
first hits. The fire of Areihusa and the destroyers, which had now 
apparently passed out of sight, had been without result. 

"Our own fire was now directed exclusively at the new enemy,, 
and simultaneously the latter was reported by wireless. By 12.55 
P.M. the enemy cruisers were only distinguishable by the flashes of 
their guns. Shortly afterwards even this had ceased, and with it 
the hail of enemy shells. Mainz ran 25 sea miles, approximately 
S.S.W. in the direction of the eastern Ems, and emitted large 
quantities of smoke. Meanwhile almost abreast on our port beam 
another cruiser of the * Birmingham * class (Fearless) had come 
into sight, as well as six destroyers close together and several 
others by themselves. In the course of the action which now 
cteveloped with these ships and in which several torpedoes were 
fired at the Mainz, the helm suddenly jammed at 10° to starboard. 

" The order, * Steer from the wheelhouse,' came through at 
tHe very same moment as the signal from the quartermaster, 
* Port your helm.' The helm remained jammed, however, as the 
result of an explosion under the wheelhouse. The result was that 


The English Break into the Heligoland Bight 

although the steering gear throughout the ship was in working 
order, all our efforts to steer the ship were without success. We 
could only conclude that a hit under water had given the whole 
rudder a bend to starboard. The port engine was stopped. 

" Mainz slowly turned more and more to starboard, and thus 
came again within range of the first three cruisers of the ' Birming- 
ham ' class and the Arethusa, with her eight destroyers. At the 
same moment the report reached the bridge that three guns, with 
their crews, had been completely put out of action. In the stage 
of the action that followed, in which Mainz, with her helm 
jammed and going round in a circle to starboard, faced four cruisers 
of the * Birmingham * class and about twenty destroyers, our own 
fire was directed exclusively at the enemy destroyers. Against these 
only was a success worth mentioning possible. As several of the 
destroyers came quite close, it was possible to observe several hits 
upon them. 

*' Meanwhile casualty had followed upon casualty on the Maim. 
About 1.20 P.M. most of the guns and gun crews were already 
out of action. The decks were shot to pieces. The sending up 
of ammunition had come to a standstill, and more than once com- 
partments under the armoured deck had to be cleared on account 
of the danger from smoke and gas. The starboard engine could 
only go half speed. 

'' It was in this condition that about 1.20 p.m. the ship was 
struck by a torpedo amidships on the port beam. The effect of 
this on the conning-tower was that the whole apparatus for trans- 
miitting orders, with the exception of the speaking-tube and 
telephones to the central and torpedo rooms, were put out of action. 
The commander thereupon gave the order, * Abandon ship, ship's 
company get clear with life-belts,' and left the conning-itower. This 
order, however, only reached the nearest action-stations, and accord- 
ingly was only carried out in part. As the result of the torpedo we 
had stopped firing ever3rwhere. At this moment the First Gunnery 
Officer and the Torpedo Officer were in the conning-tower. 
The First Officer, who thought that the Commander must 
have fallen and knew nothing of his last order, gave orders 
to resume firing, and tried to launch some torpedoes. The torpedoes 
he fired, one from port at a light cruiser and two from starboard 
at destroyers, had no luck, as the enemy ships kept out of torpedo 
range. On the enemy's side two battle-cruisers had now intervened 
in the action. Whether they also tried to get in a few hits has 


Germany's High Sea Fleet 

never been definitely ascertained. In the Mainz only the first and 
fifth starboard guns were now in action." 

The picture of the scene below decks after the explosion of the 
torpedo is amplified by the following observations of the senior 
surviving engineer, whose action-station was by the pumps. 

"1.15 P.M. — Hit by a torpedo. The ship staggered, heeled 
over quite sensibly and remained fhus for a considerable time. 
Took even longer to right herself. The emergency lights went 
out. All the glass which was not already broken by concussion of 
the bursting, shells was now broken. T^Ke electric light became dim 
and gradually went out. In the end our electric torches were the 
only light we had. The engines ceased to revolve. The gauge 
already showed that the ship was slowly settling by the head. The 
efforts to ascertain where the hole was were without result, as we 
could no longer get a reply from any of the compartments. After 
a short pause we could hear that firing had been resumed, but when 
the firing, and shortly afterwards the hail of enemy shells ceased, we 
could not get into touch with any other part of the ship. The 
conning-tower, too, did not reply. The water that poured out of the 
speaking-tube showed that the water had reached the armoured deck, 
and therefore that the flooded compartments must be submerged. 

'' As the ship was bound to sink very soon, amidships was 
now cleared. Between-decks over the armoured deck was so full of 
smoke that you could not s^e a yard ahead. Both the companions 
leading up from there were shot to pieces. It was only by scrambling 
through the holes made by shells, over the relics of hatches and 
lockers, that we managed to get out. The space under the forecastle 
was also filled with smoke from right forward as far as over the 
second gun. 

"As soon as the firing had ceased on all sides the English ships 
made the greatest efforts to pick up the survivors. At a summons 
from the Mains, which had not listed at all until about 2 o'clock, a 
destroyer came alongside the stern to take the wounded on board. 
All the wounded whose cases did not seem perfectly hopeless were 
thus removed to the destroyer, assisted by everybody who had not yet 
left the ship. About 2.10 p.m. Mainz heeled over to port and sank." 

For a last example I will give the report of the action prepared 
by Captain Seebohm, commanding the light cruiser Ariadne : 

"On the 28th August S.M.S. Ariadne, flagship of the Harbour 
Flotilla of the Jade and Weser, was lying in the Outer Jade. On 
hearing the sound of gnns about 9 o'clock, and more particularly on 


The English Break into the Heligoland Bight 

receiving a wireless from Stettin that cruiser support was requested, 
Ariadne set a course for Heligoland. Near the Outer Jade Lightship 
she met the cruiser Koln, flagship of Rear-Admiral Maass, which 
was making west at high speed. Ariadne then took much the same 
westerly course as Koln, which had soon disappeared in the haze. 
We received further wireless messages from Mainz and Strassburg 
that they were in action with enemy destroyers. 

" Avoiding a certain area where a minefield was suspected, we 
steered towards the position of the ships named. Judging by her 
wireless reports, Koln appeared to be taking the same course. 
About lo o'clock an enemy submarine was sighted square on our 
port beam. It immediately dived, and seemed at first to be 
manoeuvring for position, but then suddenly disappeared, so that we 
had no chance to fire. 

" Shortly afterwards gunfire was heard on our port bow, and we 
made straight in that direction. Shortly before 2 p.m. there emerged 
from the mist two ships, one of which, on our starboard bow, did 
not reply to our signal. It was recognised as an armoured cruiser 
so we immediately turned about. The second ship was Koln, which 
was being chased and would doubtless have got away if Ariadne 
had not appeared. The enemy immediately shifted his fire from 
Koln to Ariadne. Ariadne soon received a hit forward which started 
a fire in the coal, so that the stokehold had to be abandoned on 
account of the danger from smoke. Five boilers were thus put out 
of action and Ariadne's speed was reduced to fifteen knots. Behind 
the enemy, which, judging by its silhouette, was the English 
Flagship Lion, a second English armoured cruiser soon appeared 
and joined in the action, firing at Ariadne for about half an hour 
at a range of from 45 to 60 hm., at times even from 33 hm. This 
last distance is only an estimate, as by now all the recording instru- 
ments were out of action. Ariadne received many hits from heavy 
guns, among them a whole series aft, which was soon enveloped 
in flames. Such of the personnel there as made good their escape 
owed it entirely to luck. The fore part of the ship also received 
a number of serious hits, one of which penetrated the armoured 
deck and put the torpedo chamber out of action, while another 
destroyed the sick-bay and killed its personnel. Amidships and the 
bridge, strange to say, were almost entirely spared. It is perfectly 
impossible to say how many hits in all the ship received. Apparently 
many shells passed through the rigging and were thereby detonated. 
Others were observed to fall in the water without detonating. Many 


Germany's High Sea Fleet 

others passed to right and left as Ariadne was running away 
from the enemy and ofiFered but a small target. 

"The English salvos followed in succession with somewhat long 
pauses. The shells produced their efifect mainly by starting fires. 
All the living quarters fore and aft were immediately in flames. 
The tremendous flames made it impossible to extinguish a fire which 
had once started. Further, the fire-extinguishers on the armoured 
deck had been utterly destroyed. 

*' About 2.30 the enemy suddenly turned west. I assume that 
he could no longer distinguish the Ariadne, which was enveloped 
in smoke from the fires. On the Ariadne the undamaged guns were 
still being worked and independently of the fire-control, as there 
were no means of transmitting orders. Further, the fumes from 
the ship made it impossible to see anything from the bridge. 

"In spite of the enemy's annihilating fire the ship's company 
worked with the greatest calm, as if on manoeuvres. The wounded 
were carried down by the stretcher-bearers. All ratings tried to 
carry out such repairs as were possible by themselves. The First 
Ofiicer was carried away by a shell while between decks with the 
repairing section. 

"After the enemy turned away I first ordered * all hands' to 
extinguish the fire. This turned out to be impossible as we could 
no longer get aft and the ship had to be cleared forward as well 
almost at once. On the order ' Flood the magazine,' the men ran 
to the forward magazine. It was ascertained that this was already 
under water. It was impossible to get to the magazine aft. A 
previous attempt to open the compartments i and 2 where some 
of the men were still imprisoned proved fruitless, as the deckplates 
had beten beat by shells. The engine-room and the after boiler- 
room had remained uninjured througjiout, and the same was true of 
the rudder. The telegraph apparatus failed. The cable was ap- 
parently cut by an explosion under the conning-tower. 

"The heat and smoke made it more and more unpleasant to re- 
main on the ship, and it was even worse when the ammunition piled 
round the guns began to go off. These explosions, however, 
did not do much damage. A large number of small splinters 
were scattered which, for example, penetrated the bridge from 

"The ship's company assembled in perfect order on the fo'c'sle, 
whither the wounded also had been brought. I asked for three 
cheers for His Majesty and then the flag hymn and ' Deutschland, 


The English Break into the Heligoland Bight 

Deutschland iiber alles ' was sung. Even the wounded joined in. 
One man asked for three cheers for the oJflScers. 

"Just before 3 o'clock S.M.S. Danzig (Captain Reiss) came up 
and sent boats to us. As has already been mentioned, we had 
not suffered so severely amidships and it was therefore possible 
to lower the Ariadne's cutters also. The first to be put in the boats 
were the wounded, who were lowered from the fo'c'sle with ropes. 
As it gradually became impossible to remain on the fo'c'sle the 
rest of the ship's company jumped into the sea at the word of 
command. Some of the stronger swimmers swam all the way to 
the Danzig and Stralsund (Captain Harder), which had also ap- 
proached. The non-swimmers, who had lifebeks and rafts, were 
picked up by the boats. Meanwhile the fire on the ship — ^which 
was gutted — had died down somewhat, and the explosions were 
less frequent. I therefore betook myself to Stralsund with a few 
men who had returned in Ariadne's boat, in order to request her 
captain to take Ariadne in tow. However, just about this time 
Ariadne suddenly heeled over to port and then capsized to 
starboard. The keel was visible for some time above the 

If it was already known that the Heligoland Bight was in- 
sufficiently protected, because our scouting did not extend far 
enough, this day brought us the knowledge that a determined raid 
of the enemy against our weak forward patrol must inflict loss 
upon us every time. By the repetition of such surprises it might 
gradually be worn away altogether, while the Fleet got very little 
value out of its patrolling operations. The continuous employ- 
ment of personnel and material on patrol work in the lengthening 
nights weakened both and thereby prejudiced the efficiency for 
their main task — to fight the enemy fleet. The unmolested irruption 
of the enemy cruisers and destroyers and the complete freedom 
of movement they had enjoyed in the Heligoland Bight must be 
made much more difficult, as also must the perpetual harassing 
operations of English submarines, although the latter had not 
hitherto displayed any great skill in torpedo work. 

Far-reaching changes were made in both directions. As regards 
the patrol service a large number of armed fishing steamers were 
secured and prepared with the utmost despatch. They had pre- 
viously been employed only in the harbour flotillas, which looked 
after the security of the estuaries. Moreover, in the middle of 
September two large minefields were laid west of Heligoland, which 


/Germany's High Sea Fleet 

increased the danger for the enemy and offered a safe retreat for 
our patrols when they were hard pressed. 

On September 13 an English submarine, "E9/' succeeded in 
torpedoing the cruiser Hela south of Heligoland. The ship took 
twenty minutes to sink, so that there was time to save the whole 
ship's company, and our losses were limited to three men killed 
where the torpedo exploded. 

The minefields before Heligoland proved effective, and in con- 
junction with progressive defensive measures such as aeroplanes 
and the equipment of our patrols with weapons which could be 
employed offensively against submerged submarines (such weapons 
were wholly lacking at the beginning of the war), kept the inner 
area so clear that the danger from submarines came at last to be 
quite a rare and exceptional possibility. 




THE affair of August 28, i9i#p could be regarded as the pre- 
liminary of some enterprise on a larger scale, an enterprise 
in which our Fleet would start at a disadvantage if the enemy held 
the initiative. He would thus be able to make full use of his 
superiority while we had to undertake the difficult deployment from 
the estuaries of our riyers. By choosing his own moment the 
attacker had the advantage of previously sending out his submarines 
in large numbers to suitable stations. As the result of their fre- 
quent visits to the Heligoland Bight, as well as their experiences 
in the August action, they must have acquired sufficient data to 
be employed eflfectively. 

The defensive attitude imposed on our Fleet was a direct help to 
such a plan. To anticipate it it was therefore obvious that our 
High Command would desire greater freedom of movement in order 
to have a chance of locating parts of the enemy's forces. This could 
only be done if the light forces sent out ahead could count on timely 
intervention by the whole High Sea Fleet. On the other hand, it 
was not the Fleet's intention to seek battle with the English Fleet 
off the enemy's coasts. The relative strength (as appeared from 
a comparison of the two battle lines) made chances of success much 
too improbable. Taking battleships only, the superiority on the 
English side was seven compared with our total number of battle- 
ships, thirteen, and therefore more than fifty per cent* Our older 
ships of Squadron II, which dated from the pre-Dreadnought period, 
would be opposed to an English squadron composed of ships of 
the "King Edward VII " class of equal fighting value. 

The Supreme Command attached more importance to the security 
of the sea front, which was entrusted to the Fleet, in this early 
I>eriod of the war than to the damage which it might possibly be 
able to inflict on the enemy's fleet. The restrictions imposed on 
the Battle Fleet were therefore adhered to. 


Germany's High Sea Fleet 

The attempts to damage the enemy by guerilla operations were 
continued, and in addition cruiser raids against the English coast 
and the Skagerrak were planned. The U-boats carried their 
operations ever farther afield, and at last they had their first success 
on September 8, when " U 2 1 " (Hersing) sank the light cruiser 
Pathfinder at the entrance to the Firth of Forth. This was fol- 
lowed by the great feat of Weddigen when, with " U 9," on September 
22, he made a bag of the three armoured cruisers Cressy, Aboukir 
and Hogue, twenty nautical miles N.W. of the Hook of Holland. 

.Weddigen 's name was in everyone's mouth, and for the Navy 
in particular his achievement meant a release from the oppressive 
feeling of having done so little in this war in comparison with the 
heroic deeds of the army. But no such victory had been required 
to reveal completely the value of the submarine for our war-like 
operations, especially after it had given such unexpectedly con- 
vincing proof of its ability to remain at sea. 

Favourable news came from abroad also. The Emden had 
begun her successful operations against English merchant ships in 
the Gulf of Bengal, and in East Africa the light cruiser Konigsberg 
had sunk the Pegasus and so avenged the bombardment of Dar- 

About the middle of September the squadron of older ships 
which had been newly-formed at the beginning of the war hacl so 
far progressed in its training that it could be commissioned for 
service in the North Sea. The ships were not themselves fit to 
take part in a Fleet action, but they could take over part of the 
duties of patrolling the estuaries and keeping these open against 
attempts at interruption when the Fleet was at sea. However, they 
were never employed on this service, for they were not kept long 
in commission, as their ships' companies were needed urgently 
elsewhere later on. However, the work spent on them had not 
been wasted, for they gave the Fleet well-trained men for its new 
ships, and their presence in the Baltic in the first weeks 
of the war had the effect of giving our Baltic forces much greater 
importance in the eyes of the Russians than was justified by the 
facts. This, and possibly, too, their lack of confidence in their own 
efiiciency, may be responsible for the fact that the Russians refrained 
from taking the offensive. 

On the other hand, the Commander-in-Chief had immediately 
taken the offensive himself, although all he could promise himself 
for a result was the intimidation of the Russian naval forces in 


Autumn and Winter Months of 1914 

the Baltic. In spite of the fact that at the outset he had only two 
light cruisers, Augsburg and Magdeburg, a few torpedo-boats and 
some steamers, converted into mine-layers, at his disposal, he did 
not wait for the Russians to attack, but, immediately after the 
declaration of war, put to sea and bombarded Libau. The bom- 
bardment did not do much damage, it is true, but it compelled 
the Russians to take a hand in the work of demolition. Moreover, 
mines were laid at the entrance of the Gulf of Finland. 

Our purpose was completely attained and compensated for the 
loss of the light cruiser Magdeburg, which ran ashore in a haze 
on August 27 and had to be abandoned. On October ii the 
armoured cruiser Pallada, which had distinguished itself by shooting 
at the Magdeburg when she was stuck fast, fell a victim to our " U 26 " 
(Freherr von Berckheim). This success did not fail to have a 
paralysing e£fect on Russian enterprise. 

Without going further into the details of the operations in the 
Baltic their effect on the general situation at home can be described 
as extremely important. Without depriving the Fleet of important 
forces and thereby weakening or quite paralysing it, the modest 
forces employed kept the Russians in check, so that there was no 
bombardment of the German coast from the sea, and traffic in the 
Baltic, which was absolutely vital for war purposes, was not in- 
terfered with. The observation and security of the southern exit 
of the Belt andi Sound made it possible for us to use the western 
basin of the Baltic for the Fleet's battle practices. Without such 
a training area the exercising of the new units which had been 
formed at the beginning of the war would have been very difficult. 
In the same way it would have been very doubtful whether we could 
have carried out trial trips and the first gunnery tests of newly 
commissioned ships. 

As the war proceeded the importance of the western Baltic as 
an aid to keeping the Fleet ready to strike became a matter of life 
and death. Without constant training of an appropriate kind the 
standard of gunnery and navigation would have sunk to a precarious 
level. When navigating on a raid in the North Sea the attention 
of the Flag Officers was fully taken up with the possibility of enemy 
counter-measures and more especially with defence against under- 
water attack. Half the ship's company were on watch at action 
stations and the engine-room complement were on watch down below, 
and as their duties required their whole attention it was no good 
thinking of carrying out useful exercises of the whole ship's company 


Germany's High Sea Fleet 

under the direction of the commander. We could only expect victory 
in battle if we succeeded in maintaining that standard of training 
in which we saw our sole and overwhelming chance of beating the 
enemy. A suitable practice area for this purpose was the Baltic, 
with Kiel Haven as base. Without this area at our disposal the 
development which our submarine weapon subsequently underwent 
would have been quite unthinkable. 

In view of the importance of this practice area for our 
operations and the valuable establishments at Kiel dockyards, 
especially the torpedo-establishments at Friedrichsort, on the 
efficiency of which the whole submarine war was later to depend, 
it appears incredible that the enemy made no efforts to open this 
vital vein. At the beginning of the war the mining by the Danes 
of the northern and central portions of the Great Belt was in 
accordance with the wishes of our Naval Staff that the safety of the 
Baltic should! be secured. There may be some question as to 
whether the Danes had the right to mine these waters, for they were 
an international strait, but the mining, was approved by the English 
also, apparently because it fitted in with their plan of not penetrating 
into the Baltic. Our Fleet regarded these mines as a great obstacle 
to their freedom of movement, for they deprived it of the possibility, 
when large ships were sent out on a distant raid in the North Sea, 
of bringing them back round the Skagen into the Baltic instead of 
keeping them on the single line of retirement to Heligoland. For 
political reasons the Naval Staff regarded it as unwise to demand the 
opening of the Great Belt by Denmark. 

Of the different mine-laying enterprises of the High Sea Fleet 
in the autumn months of 1914 a special mention is due to a cruise 
which on October 17 began at the mouth of the Ems and had the 
south coast of England for its goal. Four ships of the 7th Half- 
Flotilla (Commander Thiele) "S" 115, 116, 117, 119 were employed. 
These older boats had been chosen with an eye to the possibilities 
of casualties, because they were no longer fit for other duties. The 
ships' companies had all volunteered for this dangerous raid. Their 
task consisted of laying mines at the entrance to the Downs, the 
Channel leading round the S.E. comer of England from Dover to 
the mouth of the Thames. The English Admiralty had announced 
that navigation of the area between Lat. 51* 15' N. and 51** 41' and 
Long, i"" 35' E. and 3** o' E. (that means a strip 35 nautical miles 
broad from the English to the Dutch coast) was dangerous on account 
of mines. For this reason traffic was compelled to use the open 


Autumn and Winter Months of 1914 

^ channel close to the land. It was thus under English control, and 
' the English found their inspection service easier. By mining the 
I channel leading into the Thames we might .expect practically a 
stoppage of London's supplies. 

England's behaviour in laying mines in the open sea, a policy 
made public in this announcement, released us from the necessity 
of observing the limits we had hitherto imposed on ourselves of 
restricting mine-laying solely to the enemy's coasts, an operation 
which was naturally attended with greater danger to the mine- 
layer the nearer she approached within reach of the coastal patrol 

The half-flotilla had left the Ems in the early hours of the 
morning when it was still dark. Near Haaks Lightship, 15 miles 
W. of the southern point of the Island of Texel, it met the English 
cruiser Undaunted and four destroyers of the latest type, escape from 
which was impossible. As this was realised our ships attacked and, 
after a brave defence in an action which was carried on at a range 
of a few hundred yards, were sunk. The English saved as many 
of the survivors as was possible. After we received the first wireless 
message that action had begun, no further news of the torpedo-boats 
was forthcoming, and as we had therefore to assume that they had 
been lost, we sent out the hospital ship Ophelia to pick up any 
survivors. However, the English captured her and made her prize, 
charging us with having sent her out for scouting purposes, although 
she was obviously fitted up as a hospiital ship and bore all the 
requisite markings. 

The auxiliary cruiser Berlin was sent out into the North Sea the 
same night. Her commission was to lay mines off the most 
northerly point of Scotland, as we had reason to suspect a lively 
movement of warships there. The cruise of the Berlin was favoured 
by better luck, for it was one of her mines to which the battleship 
Audacious fell a victim about a week later. She was so damaged 
that she had to be abandoned in a sinking condition. The English 
succeeded in keeping secret for a considerable time the loss of this 
great battleship, a loss which was a substantial success for our efforts 
at equalisation. When the news leaked out at last its truth was 
definitely and decisively denied. 

The following points deserve to be remembered in considering 
these two enterprises: (i) Mine-laying in the open seas. (2) The 
capture of a hospital ship which was engaged in the work of saving 
life from the best of motives and observing all the regulations. (3) 


Germany's High Sea Fleet 

The suppression of the news that an important ship had been lost 
in the case of the Audaciotis. 

The behaviour of the English was inspired at all points by con- 
sideration for what would serve their military purposes, and was 
not troubled by respect for international agreements. But this did 
not prevent England from raising loud cries later on when we also 
considered ourselves released from our obligation and with far more 
justification took action against hospital ships which, under cover 
of the Red Cross Flag, were patently used for the transport of troops. 
In the case of the Audacious we can but approve the English 
attitude of not revealing a weakness to the enemy, because accurate 
information about the other side's strength has a decisive effect on 
the decisions taken. 

The complete loss of the 7th Half-Flotilla was very painful, and 
the Commander-in-Chief has been freely criticised for having sent 
it out insufficiently supported. The reply to that is that it is 
extremely diflScult to decide what "sufficient support" is. Suppose, 
in relation to the case under consideration, we say in the light of 
after events that if we had had two more cruisers we should have 
had a superiority, sudh a method of reasoning involves a knowledge 
beforehand of the strength of the enemy ; otherwise you might have 
to bring up your whole fleet at every alarm if you wished to feel 
perfectly safe. Besides, risk is of the very essence of war. The idea 
is implied even in Moltke's phrase, "Think first." On the other 
hand, our failure revealed the importance to our operations of the 
base on the Flemish coast, from which enterprises of this kind were 
much more feasible and indeed led to a permanent threat to the 
English trade route in the Channel. 

In October the enemy submarines outside the Ems and in the 
Heligoland Bight were very active. There was hardly a day on 
which reports were not received that enemy submarines had been 
sighted. Although a good many of these turned out to be false 
alarms, their presence was frequently confirmed by the fact that 
torpedoes were fired. Apart from the loss of the Hela on Septem- 
ber 13, which has already been mentioned, the torpedo-boat ** G 116 " 
was sunk by a torpedo north of Schiermonnikoog on October 6. 
It was possible to save most of the men. On the other hand, the 
torpedo-boat "G7" and an incoming auxiliary cruiser which were 
attacked in the neighbourhood of Amrum had better luck, as all 
the torpedoes fired at them missed. 

The annoyance from submarines increased our determination 


Autumn and Winter Months of 1914 

to master them. In October, after the English "E 3 " had fallen 
a victim to one of our U-boats, which had been lying in wait all 
day for this exceptionally well-handled ship, and several other 
English submarines had had unpleasant experiences with our mines 
in the neighbourhood of Heligoland, the area of the Bight inside 
Heligoland was given a wider berth. Beyond the island, however, 
we had perpetually to deal with the watchful activities of English 
submarines. Moreover, during the autumn storms the neighbour- 
hood of the coasts was particularly unfavourable for navigation. 
Our own submarine cruises extended farther and farther afield as 
the commanders continued to gain experience, and by exchanging 
notes these operations became increasingly effective. 

On October 15 "U16" passed Heligoland after a cruise of 
fifteen days, and on her return reported that she was still perfectly 
effective. This month also witnessed the first cruise round the 
British Islands. "U 20 " (Lieutenant-Commander Droescher), which 
had been sent out against transports in the English Channel, found 
itself compelled, by damage to the diving apparatus, to avoid the 
Channel, which was closely patrolled, and therefore returned round 
Ireland and Scotland. The cruise took eighteen days in all. 

On November i the English cruiser Hermes was sunk off Dun- 
kirk by the U-boats which were commissioned to hinder the 
transport of English troops to the French ports. Unfortunately no 
success in this particular direction was achieved. 

To assign this task of interrupting the English troopship service 
to the Fleet was to make a totally impossible demand, as the losses 
it would inevitably involve would be out of all proportion to the 
advantage the army would derive from the disturbance to the trans- 
port of English troops such a Fleet action might cause. Even if the 
presence of our Fleet in these waters held up one or more ships, 
the way would be open the minute our Fleet left, and nothing could 
be easier than to arrange for ships to put out as soon as news was 
received that the enemy had gone. However important a factor 
4n the war on land England's effort might be, the best way of neutral- 
ising it would have been the occupation of the French Channel coast. 

If our Fleet went into the English Channel by the Dover- 
Calais Straits its tactical situation would be simply hopeless. It 
would have no room to manoeuvre against torpedo and mine attack. 
Our own destroyers would not have enough fuel, as their radius 
of action only just reached as far, and they would then find them- 
selves compelled to return. The Fleet would then have had to do 


Germany's High Sea Fleet 

without them or return with them. There could be no question 
of the former alternative on account of the danger from submarines, 
defence against which was the work of the destroyers, and also 
because the destroyers were indispensable for battle. The Fleet 
was therefore dependent upon the radius of action of the destroyers, 
The appearance of the submarine as a defensive weapon has made 
it a necessity in modern times to screen the approach of a fleet 
with destroyers. Moreover, it is so important to increase the 
(tensive powers of a fleet which is inferior in numbers by the 
employment of destroyers that these cannot possibly be dispensed 
with. If one compares, simply on a map, the position of a fleet 
which ventures into the Channel from the Heligoland Bight with 
that of a fleet making for the Heligoland Bight from the English 
coast — from the Firth of Forth, for example — the advantages and 
disadvantages of the prospects on either side are at once apparent. 
One fleet is placed as if it were corked in a bottle, while the other 
has freedom of movement over the whole area in its rear. 

At the end of October Squadron II had visited Kiel dockyard 
to effect certain important improvements in armament and the com- 
fort of the ships, which had suffered very much from the removal 
of everything which was likely to catch fire. This was in the in- 
terests of the health of the ships' companies during the winter. The 
compartments throughout the ship were insulated in the same way 
as those in the newer ships by the use of fireproof material. Living 
in ships in which every noise came as a shock from one end to the 
other became a severe trial to the nerves as time went by, and in view 
of the strenuous hours on watch, was prejudicial to the short period 
allowed for rest. The victims will never forget those weeks of the 
war in which the tapping of hammers and the scraping of chisels 
never ceased from first thing in the morning to last thing at night, 
and mountains of wood and superfluous paint vanished from the 

This first visit of a squadron to the Baltic was also to be employed 
in various exercises in which cruisers and destroyers were to 
participate. It appeared advisable, in view of this, to take advantage 
of the presence of the ships for a great enterprise against Libau which 
might be very unpleasant as a winter base for enemy submarines, as it 
was the only Russian ice-free harbour. While the orders for this enter- 
prise were being settled with the Commander-in-Chief in the Baltic 
and everyone was burning for the chance of at last firing his first shot, 
the news reached us from the North Sea that the bombardment of 


Germany's High Sea Fleet 

English coast towns had successfully been carried out on November 3 . 
Early that morning our battle-cruisers had appeared off Yarmouth 
to bombard the harbour and its fortifications while mines were being 
laid under their protection. The absence of Squadron II had not 
restrained the Commander-in-Chief from taking advantage of the 
favourable weather and long nights for this raid, from which we 
could anticipate an effect on the defensive attitude of the enemy as 
well as the direct influence which the damage to a hostile base would 
have on the enemy's operations. It was not found necessary to send 
the Fleet out to take up an advanced station at sea in the case of 
the short raid to Yarmouth, because the plan was to be based entirely 
on surprise under cover of darkness. After returning from this raid 
the old armoured cruiser Yorck ran on a mine in a mist in the Jade 
and was capsized by the explosion. It was found possible to save 
the larger part of the crew. 

The raid against Libau was cancelled at the last moment as the 
result of an order from the Naval Staff to Squadron II, which was 
already on its way. The frequent reports of the activity of English 
submarines in the Baltic, which had come in of late, seemed to point 
to the wisdom of abandoning the enterprise, as the bombardment by 
ships of land targets would certainly offer submarines their very best 
chances of attack. The submarine danger was taken very seriously 
because we had not yet had sufficient experience and training in the 

On November 6 we received the news of the victory of our cruiser 
squadron on November i off Coronel on the coast of Chile. Vice- 
Admiral Count von Spee had defeated in fair and open fight the 
English cruisers Good Hope, Monmouth, Glasgow and the auxiliary 
cruiser Otranto with his ships Scharnhorst and Gneisenau and the 
light cruisers Leipzig and Dresden. The two hostile armoured 
cruisers were destroyed by a superior fire, while Glasgow and Otranto 
escaped under cover of falling night. Great was the enthusiasm over 
the fact that the brave admiral had succeeded, in spite of all obstacles, 
in leading his ships to a victory which dealt a severe blow to the 
tradition of English superiority at sea. This news filled us in the 
Fleet with pride and confidence, and we thought in gratitude of those 
who, left to their resources in distant oceans, had gained immortal 
laurels for the German flag. Unfortunately fate was not to permit 
them to see their homeland again. Those who, with their leaders, 
rest in the ocean depths by the Falkland Islands, gave us a shining 
example of heroism, of devotion to duty. 





IN the first months of the war many efforts had been made to 
conduct our operations in a way that would cause the enemy 
such losses as would enable us to speak of a real equalisation of forces. 
But in vain. The results of our mine-laying were unknown, while 
the successes of our submarines did not weigh much in the scale, 
as the ships they torpedoed had no fighting value. On the other 
hand, raids by our cruisers were much more likely to bring consider- 
able portions of the English Fleet out of their harbours and thus 
give our Fleet a favourable chance of intervening if it kept ia close 
touch with its cruisers. For this purpose our cruisers would in any 
case have to go far beyond the limits of distance they had hitherto 
observed — not more than loo nautical miles from Heligoland. Then 
only would our cruisers begin to have some real effect. Within the 
limits imposed upon him the Commander-in-Chief of the Fleet had 
described the efforts we had made— cruisers had put to sea, mine- 
laying was carried out continuously in spite of the losses we had 
suffered, submarines had done far more than was expected of them, 
were untiring in their efforts and had penetrated as far as the English 
coasts, yet for the Fleet itself these operations had proved a dis- 
appointment. Strategical reasons had made it necessary to keep 
our Fleet back, and this looked like a want of confidence and affected 
the moral of the men, and gradually lowered their belief in their own 
efficiency to a regrettable degree. An impressive recital of these 
facts with the request that the Commander-in-Chief of the Fleet 
should be allowed greater latitude was met with a decided rebuff. 
The grounds of this refusal, as communicated by the Naval Staff, ran 
somewhat as follows : 

"The existence of our Fleet, ready to strike at any moment, has 
hitherto kept the enemy away from the North Sea and Baltic coasts 
and made it possible to resume trade with neutral countries in the 
Baltic. The Fleet has thus taken over the protection of the coast 


Germany's High Sea Fleet 

and troops required for that purpose are now available for use in the 
field. After even a successful battle, the ascendancy of the 
Fleet under the numerical superiority of the enemy would give way, 
and under the pressure of the enemy Fleet the attitude of the neutrals 
would be prejudiciously influenced. The Fleet must therefore be 
held back and avoid actions which might lead to heavy losses. This 
does not, however, prevent favourable opportunities being made use 
of to damage the enemy. An employment of the Fleet outside the 
German Bight, which the enemy tries to bring about through his 
movements in the Skagerrak, is not mentioned in the orders for opera- 
tions as being one of the favourable opportunities. There is nothing 
to be said against an attempt of the big cruisers in the North Sea to 
damage the enemy." 

These instructions served the purpose of the further enterprise 
against the English coast. On December 15 the big cruisers under 
the command of Vice-Admiral Hipper sailed under orders to bombard 
the fortified coast towns of Scarborough and Hartlepool and to lay 
mines along the coast, for there was constant traffic between the East 
Coast ports. Both these places, however, are 150 nautical miles 
nearer to the chief bases of the English Fleet in the North of 
the British Isles than is Yarmouth. It would, therefore, be much 
easier for vessels lying there or cruising at sea in the vicinity 
to beat off an attack, and the expedition would probably present 
a much greater risk, and a more urgent call for support from the 

The 2nd Scouting Division, composed of light cruisers and two 
torpedoboat flotillas, was attached to the ist Scouting Division of 
batde-cruisers. They left the Jade on the isth at 3.20 a.m., followed 
late in the afternoon of the same day by squadrons of battleships. The 
hour of departure for both divisions was chosen in order to profit by 
the darkness and if possible put to sea unobserved. Judging from 
what ensued, this appears to have succeeded. A rendezvous at sea at 
54'' 30' N. Lat. and 7® 42' E. Long, was appointed for the squadrons 
coming from the Jade and the Elbe. In order to get there I left the 
anchorage at Cuxhaven with Squadron II at 4 p.m. From the meet- 
ing-place Squadron II took the course ordered by the Commander-in- 
Chief-— W.N.W. by %W. at a speed of 15 knots. As all the 
ships were most carefully darkened, nothing could be seen of the 
other squadrons. The navigation had therefore to be most accurate 
in order that the squadrons might be in their proper places the next 


Bombardment of Scarborough and Hartlepool 

morning. Seven to five nautical miles had been determined on as 
the distance between the squadrons from flagship to flagship. The 
sailing order of the units was : Squadrons I, III and II. To ensure 
the safety of the Main Fleet when under way, the two older 
armoured cruisers, Prinz Heinrich and Roon, were placed ahead, 
together with a torpedo-boat flotilla. To cover the flanks two light 
cruisers were utilised, each with a flotilla. The light cruiser Stettin, 
with two flotillas, covered the rear. During the night several fishing 
steamers were stopped by the escorting torpedo-boats but released as 

At 5.20 A.M. a torpedo-boat in the vanguard reported four enemy 
destroyers in Square 105. This was at 54** 55' N. Lat. and 2° 10' 
E. Long. This spot was about 20 nautical miles north-west of the 
appointed meeting-place for the cruisers, to which destination the 
Commander-in-Chief of the Fleet was also steaming. As several 
hours must elapse before we could reach our destination, and no 
further message followed the first one, we continued on our way. An 
hour later there was another message from a torpedo-boat in the 
vanguard to the effect that ten enemy destroyers had been sighted and 
that flashes from guns were visible. A quarter of an hour later the 
same boat reported that a chase had started. Thereupon at 6.45 the 
Commander-in-Chief gave the signal for all the squadrons to turn 
into a S.E. course as it still wanted an hour and a half to daylight. 
By issuing that order he carried out his purpose of avoiding an 
encounter with the enemy torpedo-boats and denying them the 
opportunity to attack in the dark. 

Meanwhile our vanguard had begun to fight with the enemy 
destroyers. At 6.58 the light cruiser Hamburg (Captain von 
Gaudecker) reported that he had sunk an enemy destroyer. At 7.10 
the Fleet turned again to the E.S.E.-j^E. and started on the return 

It had passed considerably beyond the arc from Terschelling 
to Horns Reef that shuts off the Bight. Having set out with the 
object of, supporting our cruisers, there was now no possibility of 
carrying out that plan, seeing the great distance that lay between 
the two divisions. In this case, therefore, the success of the cruisers' 
enterprise was entirely dependent on their taking the enemy by 
surprise and avoiding the enemy's superior forces. 

Towards daybreak, when our cruisers were approaching the 
English coast, the wind rose to such a pitch and the sea ran so high 
that the light cruiser Strassburg reported at 7 a.m. that, owing to 


Germany's High Sea Fleet 

heavy seas off the land, firing was no longer possible and the ship 
had been obliged to turn on an easterly course. As, under these 
conditions, the light cruisers and torpedo-boats could only be a 
hindrance to the big cruisers, the Commander-in-Chief decided to 
dispatch those vessels in the direction of the Main Fleet, with the 
exception of the light cruiser Kolberg, which was to continue laying 
mines at the places determined on. 

The big cruisers then divided into two groups for the bombard- 
ment of the coastal towns, the northern section, the Seydlitz, Moltke 
and Blucher, making for Hartlepool. An officer of one of the U-boats 
who had reconnoitred the area beforehand rendered good service 
in locating the place. Shortly before they were off Hartlepool the 
cruisers were attacked by four torpedo-boat destroyers of the " River *' 
class that ran out to sea and were brought under fire at a distance 
of about 50 hm. The sinking of one destroyer and heavy damage 
to another were observed. After firing some torpedoes without any 
result, they turned away. We gave up pursuing them so as not to 
lose time for the bombardment. The Seydlitz opened fire on the 
Cemetery Battery and scored several hits, so that at last the fire was 
only returned by one 15 cm. gun and one light gun from the battery. 
The Moltke was hit above the water-line, causing much damage 
between decks but no loss of life. From the first, the Blucher came 
under a lively fire from the land batteries; she had nine killed and 
three wounded by one hit alone. 15 cm. howitzers and light artillery 
were used on land ; the Blucher was hit six times altogether. 

The southern group, Von der Tann and Derfflinger, made for 
Scarborough which was easily distinguishable. The coastguard 
station at Scarborough and the signalling and coastguard stations 
at Whitby were destroyed. At the latter place the second round 
brought down the signalling flagstaff with the English ensign and 
the entire station building as well. The Derfflinger also bombarded 
trenches and barracks at Scarborough. As there was no counter- 
action it must be assumed that the battery at Scarborough was either 
not manned, in proper time, or had been evacuated by the garrison. 

The light cruiser Kolberg laid her mines at the appointed place 
without much difficulty, although the ship heeled over to 12 degrees 
and the tip apparatus (for dropping the mines overboard) drew water. 
At 9.45 the cruisers assembled round the Seydlitz and started to 
retire in the direction of the meeting-place agreed on with the Main 
Fleet. An hour later, at 10.45, ^ wireless message was received 
from the Chief of Reconnaissance with the Fleet that the task 


Bombardment of Scarborough and Hartlepool 

was accomplished and that he was stationed at 54^ 45' N., o'' 30^ W. 
At 12.30 noon the Stralsund, of the Second Scouting Division, 
with Torpedo-Boat Flotilla II attached, sighted a number of enemy 
cruisers and, turning in a south-westerly direction, evaded them to 
try and join the large cruisers. The English cruisers were again 
lost to sight, as the weather was very misty. Soon afterwards 
the Stralsund sighted six large enemy ships which were made out to 
be battleships of the "Orion" class, and therefore the Second 
English Battle Squadron. The Stralsund kept in touch with them 
and continued to report on the course and the speed of the enemy. 
At I P.M. these groups were at 54** 20' N. lat., 2'' o' E. long. This 
report caused our big cruisers to turn oS ina north-easterly direction, 
as owing to the bad visibility they were compelled to avoid an un- 
expected encounter with battleships of superior fighting strength 
than that of our own. At that time the position of the two forces 
facing each other was approximately as follows : 

a Deutsd>es 6 res 
b Deutsche KI.Kreurer 

c • gr. * 

d englnSchlodit-G«5d)wader 

e • l.SdilcicMKk«MS«rGeidwv 

130 sm. 


Great disappointment was caused on board my flagship by this 
report. If our big cruisers had got into difficulties between the 
enemy battle-squadron and other cruisers already reported and still 
in the vicinity, our help would be too late. There was no longer 
any possibility while it was still day of coming up with the enemy 
battle^uadron, which at one o'clock was 130 nautical miles distant 
from us. Our premature turning on to a E.S.E. course had robbed 
us of the opportunity of meeting certain divisions of the enemy 
according to the prearranged plan, which was now seen to have been 


Germany's High Sea Fleet 

correct. At all events the restrictions imposed on the Commander- 
in-Chief of the Fleet brought about the failure of the bold and 
promising plan, owing to its not having been carried out in the 
proper manner. As we now know from an English source, the 
destroyers fired at by the Hamburg were about lo nautical miles 
in front of the Second Battle Squadron which had come down on 
a southerly course — the vanguard of which had got into touch with 
ours between 6 and 7 a.m.; and since the position at i p.m., reported 
by the Stralsund, coincides exactly with the English statement, it 
proves that at 7 a.m. both the main fleets were only about 50 nautical 
miles apart. It is extremely probable that by continuing in our 
original direction the two courses would have crossed within sight 
of each other during the morning. 

The advantage in a battle ensuing therefrom was distinctly on 
our side. The English had at their disposal on the spot the Second 
Battle Squadron with six ships, the First Battle-Cruiser Squadron 
with four ships was within attacking distance, and added to these 
were a few light cruisers and the Third Cruiser Squadron attached 
to the Second Battle Squadron. 

According to his own statement, the English admiral in command 
did not leave Scapa Flow with the other ships till 12 noon, after 
receiving news of the bombardment at 9 a.m. He could not possibly 
have been in time; while the Third English Squadron, which had 
been sighted at 10 o'clock, would not have had the advantage over 
our Fleet. 

On the part of the English, disappointment was felt that coastal 
towns had again been bombarded by our cruisers and that they could 
not succeed in stopping it, although the necessary forces chanced 
to be at sea and had even got into touch with our light cruisers. 
This, according to Admiral Jellicoe's account, may have been due 
to the fact that the squadrons at sea had received instructions from 
him how to act so as to cut off the enemy, but had also had direct 
orders from the English Admiralty which were totally different and 
which were acted upon by Sir George Warrender, in command of 
the Second Battle Squadron. 

The weather conditions were remarkable on that day. In the 
east section of the North Sea— the area through which our Fleet had 
passed — there was a slight easterly wind, no sea running, and perfect 
visibility. At the 3rd deg. E. Long, there was a sharply defined 
spot where the weather changed. A north-westerly storm raged <^ 
the English coast and the sea was correspondingly rough, making 


Bombardment of Scarborough and Hartlepool 

it extremely difficult to serve the guns even on board the big cruisers. 
Between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m., as our Fleet withdrew, an extraordinary 
number of drifting mines were observed, more than 70, some of 
them already exploded. They must have broken loose from 
the big minefield at the entrance to the Canal. It was a lucky 
chance that we escaped damage when, on the preceding night, 
the ships passed through that area without being able to observe 
them. At 8 p.m. on December 16, Squadron II ran into the Elbe 
again, and the others returned to the Jade. 

The impression that a specially favourable opportunity had been 
missed still prevailed, and the chance of another such arising could 
hardly be expected. 

The behaviour of the English Fleet makes it obvious that our 
advance was a complete surprise to them, nor had they counted on 
our Main Fleet pushing forward to the Dogger Bank. Otherwise 
the English expedition would surely have comprised stronger forces 
than merely one battle squadron, a battle-cruiser squadron, and 
lighter forces. This combination certainly made them superior to 
our cruiser attack but not to an attack by our Fleet. The information 
that besides the German ships in action off the English coast a 
still greater number were out at sea was communicated to the 
English Commander-in-Chief of the Fleet at 2 p.m. by the English 

The English received the news through their ''directional 
stations" which they already had in use, but which were only 
introduced by us at a much later period. They are wireless stations 
for taking the directional bearings of wireless messages, and in 
combination are capable of indicating the direction from which 
intercepted wireless messages come and thus locating the signalling 
ship's station. The stretch of the English east coast is very favourable 
for the erection of these ''directional stations." In possessing them 
the English had a very great advantage in the conduct of the war, 
as they were able thus to obtain quite accurate information as to 
the locality of the enemy as soon as any wireless signals were sent 
by him. In the case of a large fleet, where separate units are 
stationed far apart and communication between them is essential, 
an absolute cessation of all wireless intercourse would be fatal to 
any enterprise. 

Towards the end of December a change was made in the squadron 
command. Other ships had been added to Squadron III since the 
declaration of war. The Konig, Grosser Kurfurst and Markgraf 


Germany's High Sea Fleet 

had all made their trial trips. The Kronprinz was very near com- 
pletion and on January 2 was enrolled as the eighth ship in the 
squadron. I was entrusted with the command of this squadron. 
It was no easy matter for me to separate from Squadron II, which 
had been under my command for nearly two whole years, as I had 
learnt to value the splendid spirit of the crews, who, in spite of the 
inferior fighting powers of the ships, made it a point of honour 
never to be behindhand in anything. But personal feelings were 
not to be considered, and I had to look upon it as a great distinction 
that the command of our most powerful fighting squadron was 
given to me. The command of Squadron II was taken over 
on December 26 by Rear-Admiral Funke, whereupon I left for 
Wilhelmshaven to take up my position on the Prinz Regent Luitpold. 

The ensuing time was fully occupied in learning to know the 
peculiarities of the new class of ship and the standard of fighting 
power of each individual vessel, and in judging the personality of 
the commanders and the corps of officers. The prevailing conditions 
of war made it more difficult to cultivate close relations with them 
than would have been the case in peace time. My chief object was 
so to train the unit as to make it absolutely reliable for implicit 
obedience to commands. I applied, therefore, to the Commander- 
in-Chief for an opportunity for a period of training in the Baltic 
towards the end of January. This was all the more necessary in view 
of the fact that since they were commissioned the four ships of the 
"Konig" class had had no practice in torpedo firing. 

From a military point of view torpedo firing practice is an urgent 
necessity in the training and further development of all torpedo 
officers, those who are in charge of the torpedo tubes, and of those 
in reserve, in order to prove that the results from the use of 
the weapon are equal to expectations. Particular attention must be 
given to range practice and angle-discharging, which make a great 
demand on the ability of the torpedo men. During the war many 
ships were provided with torpedoes with all the latest improvements, 
without the crew having had an opportunity to fire them or become 
familiar with the handling of them. Experience showed that it was 
necessary to test every torpedo that had lain unused for more than 
five months to make sure that it would act when needed. 

So long as enemy submarines remained in those waters the inner 
Bight of the North Sea was not a suitable place for gun-practice; 
these craft could not have had a better opportunity for firing their 
torpedoes. The mouths of the rivers certainly offered chances to our 


Bombardment of Scarborough and Hartlepool 

gunners of practice on objects passing by, but there was very little 
scope for gun practice at long range under fighting conditions. The 
necessity of combining the training period with the time required 
for unavoidable repairs, as also with the war activities of the Fleet 
which called for the participation of the highest possible number of 
ships, was a matter of extreme difficulty from the point of view of 

Before Squadron III could sail for the Baltic there was to be 
another enterprise by the Fleet in the North Sea, which, owing to 
bad weather, was postponed from day to day. January, 19151 
opened with most unfavourable weather, and one violent storm 
followed rapidly on another. But when, in searching for a passage 
for the Fleet through the minefields, it was discovered that many 
new ones had been laid down, both north of Amrum and west of 
Borkum, and also in the gap between Norderney and the safety 
barrier we had put down, the plan for an advance by the Fleet was 
abandoned. These mines would first have had to be removed, which 
would have been slow work owing to the bad weather. Instead of a 
big action by the Fleet, two light cruisers went out to lay mines and 
succeeded in placing a barrier 50 nautical miles from the English 
coast, close to the mouth of the Humber, presumably just in the 
enemy's outgoing course. 

Towards the middle of the month the Fleet was kept at a high 
pitch of readiness as there was reason to believe the English were 
planning a blockade of our estuaries. The idea was extremely 
probable, as the poor visibility in winter weather offered the most 
favourable conditions for carrying it out. In the Jade particularly 
the channel for large vessels was so narrow and so shallow that 
the traffic was greatly hindered, especially in the case of certain 
vessels. There could be no warding off such an attack by a coast 
battery, as Wangeroog was not yet fortified. In any case, we could 
not afford to over-estimate the difficulty of carrying out such an 
undertaking; in view of the vast amount of material possessed by 
England for such a purpose, success in it was by no means out of 
the question. The fact that the Fleet would be obliged to push the 
undertaking to our very river mouths doubtless formed their chief 
reason for pot making such an attempt, the success of which would 
have been very detrimental to the carrying out of our U-boat and 
mining warfare. 

On the morning of January 19, an aeroplane having sighted 
60 miles north-west of Heligoland numerous English ships bound 


Germany's High Sea Fleet 

on an easterly course, among them several battle-cruisers and close 
upon 100 small craft, we made sure that their plan was to be put 
into execution. It is quite possible that the aeroplane was mistaken 
as to the number and type of the ships, although the report was 
confirmed from another source — two U-boats that returned from 
sea. However, the torpedo-boats which were sent out to reconnoitre 
and to attack at night if necessary saw nothing of the enemy forces, 
so they probably had withdrawn early. At any rate we considered 
the danger of a blockade to be at an end. 

On January 21 Squadron III sailed for the Elbe. During the 
passage there was a violent snowstorm which made it very difficult 
to locate the mouth of the river. Owing to the rapidly falling 
depth of water as shown by the soundings taken, we were forced to 
anchor, a manoeuvre carried out in exemplary fashion by the big 
ships, in spite of the current and the mist. It showed very 
clearly the difiference between the navigation of a squadron of such 
large vessels and that of Squadron II where the ships had not half 
the displacement. The next morning the weather was calm and clear, 
and the passage through the Kaiser Wilhelm Canal was accom- 
plished without accident. It took us only 10 hours to cover the long 
stretch of 100 kilometres from the lock gates at Brunnsbiittel to the 
entrance into the lock at Holtenau in Kiel Harbour. 

While the training of Squadron III was proceeding in the Baltic, 
!he first regular cruiser action took place in the North Sea. 


After a long period of inaction, the weather being apparently 
favourable, the commander of the scouting ships was ordered 
on January 23 to reconnoitre oflF the Dogger Bank with the cruisers 
of the ist and 2nd Scouting Divisions, the First Leader of 
the Torpedo-boat Forces, and the Second Flotilla, and there to 
destroy any of the enemy's light forces to be met with. They were 
to set out in the evening, when darkness fell, and were expected 
back the following evening when it was again dark. 

The speed of the advance was to be such that the cruisers, at 
daybreak on the 24th, would have reached the south-east edge of 
the Dogger Bank. It was not intended to push farther on towards 
the Bank while it was still dark, otherwise enemy forces might make 
their way unobserved in between Heligoland and the cruisers. On 
the way there no trade or fishing steamers were to be examined, if 


Battle of Cruisers off the Dogger Bank 

it could be avoided, so as not to be forced to leave any of our torpedo- 
boats behind ; but the plan of action for the homeward run included 
the examination and, where necessary, seizure of all the fishing 
steamers encountered. 

The big cruiser Von der Tann was missing from our cruiser 
squadron, being in dock for urgently needed repairs, as was also 
the light cruiser Strassburg. The fighting force, therefore, com- 


V 6 6 E R-r' 

BANK ^^ .^^V ^W 

,/ flagg9Chifrschortbeschddigt%/> — ^ ^^^^ 

^^^mi^SLtmmamM^' ^^M'Nm 

The Fi|ht off the Dogger Btnlc 

prised the cruisers SeydliU — ^the flagship of Rear-Admiral Hipper — 
Derfflinger, Moltke and Blucher, the light cruisers Graudenz, 
Stralsund, Kolberg and Rostock, Torpedo-Boat Flotilla V, and 
the 2nd and i8th Half-Flotillas, The Graudenz and Stralsund 
formed the vanguard, the flanks were supported by the Rostock on 
the starboard and by the Kolherg on the larboard side. A half- 
flotilla was attached to each light cruiser. 

At 8.15 A.M. on the 24th the Kolberg encountered an enemy 
light cruiser and destroyers. The enemy's signal of recc^ition 
was answered by the Kolberg turning on the searchlight and shortly 
afterwards opening fire, which was returned a few minutes later. 
The Kolberg was hit twice and had two men killed. At the same 
time she sighted thick clouds of smoke in a west-south-westerly 


Germany's High Sea Fleet 

direction, and the Siralsund also reported to the same efifect to the 

The conclusion thus to be drawn was that other and more 
numerous forces were lying off the Dogger Bank. 

After Admiral Hipper had picked up the Kolberg he assembled 
his group on a south-easterly course, as it was still not sufficiently 







vca k. Rostock 
^^fv/sa/id IP ^ 


/ '^^V'^^ ^^*^ ^«(<V» 


^^ (Vorudvyek^ffdBf^lvidttfigaurmsc) 

Sitoftticm ftt 8.20 A.M., JtiUMry 24, 1915 

light to make out the number and type of the enemy forces. While 
the ships were assembling, four cruisers of the **Town '* class, 
three cruisers of the '* Arethusa " class, and a large number of 
destroyers were sighted on a parallel course north of our cruisers, 
but out of gun range. The Bliicher was able to count more than 
twenty destroyers. Further clouds of smoke could be seen in their 
rear, and the Stralsund reported that at least eight large ships were 
observable in a north-north-westerly direction. 

Admiral Hipper was bound therefore to assume that at the 
rear of these numerous light forces there must be other and 


Battle of Cruisers off the Dogger Bank 

stronger groups of ships, and, as he could not count on any support 
from our own Main Fleet, he decided to push on full speed ahead 
in a south<-easterly direction. The torpedo-boats were sent on ahead. 
The BlUcher, being the rear ship, was permitted at discretion to 
open fire, as some of the destroyers to the north approached very 
near, while the light cruisers with them stood off farther to the 

\ ^ 

Sitimdoii ftt 8.40 iLM. 

At 9.35 A.M., however, five thick clouds of smoke were observed 
from starboard in a west to west-north-west direction, which were 
soon made out to be from the ist English Battle-Cruiser Squadron. 
They came up at full speed and opened fire at a great distance, 
about 200 hm., and, at first at any rate, without reaching our 

The naval command at Wilhelmshaven received the first news 
of the encounter of our cruisers with the enemy at 8.50 a.m., when 
the Seydlitz reported herself as being at 54** 53' N. Lat. and 3** 30' 


Germany's High Sea Fleet 

E. Long., course S.E., speed 20 knots, and had sighted eight large 
ships, one light cruiser and twelve destroyers. The command at 
once issued orders for special preparation on board all ships and 
torpedo-boat flotillas and assembled them in the Schillig Roads. 
As the way to the Bight was open to our cruisers, and they were 
in touch with the enemy forces in the rear, it was assumed that so 
far our ships were not in any danger. Towards 10.30 a.m. the 
squadrons were all assembled in the Schillig Roads, and ran out 
to sea at 11. 10, as a wireless message had come from the Admiral 
at II o'clock, saying he was in urgent need of support. He was 
then at 54** 30^ N. Lat. and 4** 35' E. Long. 

These forces were, however, not called upon to take any active 
part in the battle, as the further development of the fighting at 
that time showed it to be unnecessary. 

Meanwhile the situation of the cruisers had developed as f<^lows : 
At 10 A.M. our large cruisers were lying on a south-easterly course, 
so that all the ships could open fire from the starboard on the English 










Position ftt 10.11 A.M 

Battle of Cruisers off the Dogger Bank 

large cruisers. Our light cruisers and both the flotillas were ahead 
of our large cruisers^ slightly on the starboard side. 

The enemy battleK:ruisers came up very rapidly, and must have 
made a speed of at least 26 knots.* 

Our ist Scouting Division was not favourably situated, owing 
to the prevailing east-north-east wind. There was nothing for 
it, however, but to keep to the south-east course, leading to the 
Bight, as the main direction for the fighting. The chances of 
support from our own forces were greater there, and the farther we 
could succeed in drawing the enemy into the Bight the greater 
prospect there would be of setting torpedo-boats on him during 
the ensuing night. Any other course leading farther south or still 
farther west would not greatly have improved the smoke conditions, 
but would from the first have placed the enemy battle-cruisers in a 
frontal position. On the other hand, a north-easterly course, so 
as to have the wind ahead, would have carried our forces straight 
up against the enemy destroyers, and thus ofifered them a good 
opportunity for attack. Soon after 10 o'clock our large cruisers 
opened fire at 180 hm.; the enemy manoeuvred so as to avoid our 
fire. At the same time our cruisers also turned about between 
E.S.E. and S.E. to a S. course. The range for the leading ship, 
the Seydlitg, varied between 180 to 145 hm. The enemy had 
separated and formed two groups, the leading one having three, 
and the other two ships, f 

They were trying to keep at the farthest firing distance. Soon 
after the fighting began the Seydlitg was badly hit and both her 
after turrets, with their two 28-cm. guns, were put out of action, 
while fires were caused in them by the exploding ammunition. The 
gunners in both turrets were killed, and the turrets themselves 
jammed and put out of action. Owing to the fire, which took 
a long time to extinguish, the munition chamber had to be flooded. 

Meanwhile some of the light cruisers and destroyers were 
steaming up on the larboard Qx>rt] side, so that the near ships 
could fire on them occasionally. In doing so Blucher, the last ship, 
hit and heavily damaged a destroyer. At 11.30 the enemy appeared 
to be drawing nearer ; at the same time the Blucher reported engine 
trouble and dropped slowly to the rear. 

* The English commander. Admiral Beatty, boasted in his report thAt his ships 
had achieved a speed of 28.5 knots. 

t According to an English account, the Lion, Tiger, Princess Royal, New 
Zealand and Indomitable, 


Germany's High Sea Fleet 

The order " Flotilla clear for attack " was then sent to the 
torpedo-boat leader. At 11.45 ^^ leading enemy ship, with a 
heavy list on, turned off and drew out of the line. The ship 
following after her passed the leader, so as to keep up the running 
fight. The other enemy battle-cruisers followed at irregular dis- 
tances. At 12 o'clock our cruisers turned towards the enemy, and 
the torpedo-boats were ordered to attack. The enemy battle- 
cruisers then turned at once to a northerly course to evade the 



/ AufkLCrti^pm 

Potidoii At 11.55 A.M. 

torpedo-boats and to turn on the Blucher, which had been left 
behind. In view of this manoeuvre the torpedo-boats were recalled 
from the attack. 

Our cruisers now took up a southerly course, intending to open an 
encircling fight with the enemy, and if possible render help to the 
Blucher. But both turrets on board the Seydlitz, with two-fifths of 


Battle of Cruisers oft the Dogger Bank 

the heavy guns, were definitely out of action, and the ship's stern was 
full of water which had spread to the other parts from the flooding of 
the munition chamber, so the Admiral of the cruisers therefore de- 
cided to profit by the increased distance caused by the enemy's 
manoeuvre to turn again to S.E. and break off the fight. At 1.45 
the enemy was lost to view, the Seydlitz being then 25 nautical 
miles north of the mouth of the Elbe. 






Position at 12 noon 

At 3.30 P.M. the forces that had run out from the Jade joined the 
returning cruisers and together entered the rivers. 

Besides the explosion and the list on the leading enemy ship, many 
other hits and a big fire on the second ship were observed. Several 
officers asserted positively that they had seen one of the large cruisers 
sink, which gave rise to the report that it was the battle-cruiser Tiger. 
Contradictory reports from an English source appeared later in the 
Press and confirmed the opinion that the English wished to conceal 
the fact. The airship "L 5," which was hovering over the spot, 


Germany's High Sea Fleet 

reported that only four large ships were seen to withdraw. The 
torpedo-boat "V 5," Lieut.-Commander von Eichhorn, which, after 
being recalled from the attack, had dropped out from between the 
two fighting lines, fired two torpedoes at 70 hm., and thereupon 
observed the withdrawal of a battle-cruiser. There seems no obvious 
reason why the English cruisers should so soon have stopped fighting 
after their leader fell out and when the number of our cruisers had 
already dwindled to three, unless it was because our guns had 
severely handled them. 

On our side we deplored the loss of the Bliicher. Very soon after 
her engines were damaged another shot caused an explosion and 
a fire amidships, apparently in the big ammunition chamber, situate 
in that part of the vessel- It was observed how to the very last the 
ship's guns on both sides fired on the battle-cruisers which concen- 
trated their fire on that one ship, as did also the numerous enemy 
light cruisers and destroyers, for whom the wrecked ship was a wel- 
come target, until at 1.7 p.m. she turned over and sank. The sur- 
vivors of the crew were picked up by English destroyers and other 
ships that were at hand, among them being the gallant commander, 
Captain Erdmann, who unfortunately died afterwards while a 
prisoner in England of pneumonia, the result of the immersion in the 
cold sea after his ship had gone down. The Derfftinger and Kolberg 
were slightly damaged; the Seydliiz was badly hit a second time on 
her armoured belt, the plate being pressed into the ship's side and 
causing a leakage. The first shell that hit her had a terrible effect. 
It pierced right through the upper deck in the ship's stern and 
through the barbette-armour of the near turret, where it exploded. All 
parts of the stern, the officers' quarters, mess, etc., that were near 
where the explosion took place were totally wrecked. In the reloading 
chamber, where the shell penetrated, part of the charge in readiness 
for loading was set on fire. The flames rose high up into the turret 
and down into the munition chamber, and thence through a 
connecting door usually kept shut, by which the men from the 
munition chamber tried to escape into the fore turret. The flames 
thus made their way through to the other munition chamber, and 
thence again up to the second turret, and from this cause the entire 
gun crews of both turrets perished almost instantly. The flames 
rose as high as a house above the turrets. 

Up to 12 noon there had been no prospect of the torpedo-boat 
flotillas making a successful attack; the distances were too great. 
The torpedo-boats would have been obliged to get within 100 hm. 


Battle of Cruisers off the Dogger Bank 

of the enemy to secure an opportunity of firing. When the distances 
were reduced and there was an opening for attack the enemy turned 
away and gave up the fight. At that time Admiral Beatty, leader 
of the English battle-cruisers, was not in command. From informa- 
tion received later, it appeared he had stayed behind on the Lion, 
and had then boarded a torpedo-boat to hurry after his ships, but 
did not reach them till they were returning.* 

The spot where the Bluche/r was sunk is at 54^ 25' N. Lat., 5*^ 25' 
E. Long. When Admiral Hipper decided to break off the fight he, 
according to his report, was guided by the convicticm that it would be 
of no avail to send help to the already sinking BlUcher, and in view 
of the enemy's superior strength would only involve us in further 
losses. The fighting had lasted more than three hours, and the 
Seydlitz had only 200 rounds of ammunition for the guns. The 
Naval Command fully recognised that no objection could be raised 
to the conduct of the forces in the battle, or to the tactical measures 
adopted, and also approved of the decision, hard though it was, to 
abandon the Blucher to her fate. 

If our battle-cruisers, by turning round and risking the three 
remaining cruisers, had approached the Blucher, then unnavigable, 
they would have entangled themselves in the most unfavourable 
tactical position imaginable, as their own torpedo-boats would 
have been astern of them, while the enemy would have had his 
light cruisers and destroyers directly ahead, and could have used 
them for a torpedo attack. The result was, therefore, more than 
doubtful ; there would probably have been heavy casualties without 
corresponding loss on the other side, and the Blucher could not 
possibly have been saved. 

The enemy's behaviour obviously shows that it was his intention, 
relying on the heavier calibre of his guns, to carry on the fighting 
at the greatest distance, to knock out the central guns (15-cm.) of our 
ships, and above all to keep themselves beyond the range of our 
torpedoes. It would have been easy for him to draw nearer, as was 
proved when he steamed up so quickly. His superior speed enabled 
him to select the range at his own pleasure. In spite of superior 
guns and the more favourable position of the English line, their 

* Admiral Beatty says in his report : "I followed the squadron with the ntmost 
speed on the destroyer Attack, and met them at noon as they withdrew to the north- 
north-west. I went on board the Princess Royal and hoisted my flag at 12.20 p.m., 
when Oiptain Brock informed me of what had happened after the Lion fell out, how 
the BlUcher was sunk, and the enemy battle-cruisers very nmch damaged had 
continued their eastward course." His report does not mention any reason lor their 
not having pursued the damaged German cruisers. 


Germany's High Sea Fleet 

firing in the protracted running fight was not very successful when 
we take into consideration that three of their ships each had eight 
34-cm. guns and the two others each eight 30.5-cm, guns. Opposed 
to them on our side were two ships each with ten 28-cm. guns, the 
Bliicher with twelve 21 -cm., and the Derfflinger with eight 30.5-cm. 
It is not surprising that the Bliicher was destroyed by gun-fire ; her 
armour plating was not very thick, and, being the last ship of our 
line, most of the enemy's fire was concentrated on her. 

However regrettable was the great loss of life on board the 
Seydlits through the fire spreading to the munition chamber of each 
turret, a valuable lesson had been learned for the future in dealing 
with reserve ammunition, and it was applied in subsequent actions. 

The unexpected presence of the English ships on the morning 
of the 24th leads to the conclusion that the encounter was not 
a matter of chance,, but that our plan in some way or other had 
got to the knowledge of the English. The leader of our cruisers, 
seeing so many ships assembled, must have considered it extremely 
probable that still more forces were behind. Whether there was 
any other reason for such a concentration cannot be maintained with 
certainty. It may possibly be that it was connected with the conduct 
of the English on the 19th, or with preparations for a new action. 

As we know from the English accounts, the Lion was not able 
to reach harbour under her own steam but was taken in tow by the 
Indomitable during the afternoon, and towed to the Firth of Forth. 
The question as to whether our flotillas that stood by the cruisers 
could have kept in touch with the enemy so as to attack at night 
must be negatived^ as they would not have had sufficient fuel. As 
regards the flotillas assembled in the Jade, when the news of the 
encounter reached them the enemy was already so far ahead as to 
exclude the prospect of a successful night attack. 

This first serious fight with large ships which the Fleet had had 
the opportunity of participating in proved that the fighting prepared- 
ness of the ships as regards the training of all on board was on a 
very high level, that the ships were handled in a correct and reliable 
manner, and that the serving of the guns, the signalling, and the 
transmission of orders from ship to ship during the fight, as well 
as the measures necessitated by leakages, had all worked admirably. 
Everywhere the behaviour of the crews was exemplary. The case 
of the Seydlitz (Captain von Egidy), from which ship, in spite of 
the fierce fire raging on board, the command of the whole unit 
was calmly maintained, deserves special emphasis. 




ENTERPRISES at sea are doubtless in a greater measure 
dependent on chance than those on land, owing largely to the 
lack of reliable information of the enemy's movements and the 
rapidity with which a situation changes. Therefore absolute liberty 
of action is essential to the officer in command of the operation within 
the prescribed limit of the objective. The general aim of our Fleet 
may be summarised as follows : not to seek decisive battle with the 
entire English Fleet, but to test its strength against separate 

If, however, the burden of responsibility of the officer in command 
is to be complicated by suggestions and instructions restricting the 
operation of his plans, the possibility of a successful result will be 
greatly lessened. The lack of tangible results from the various 
enterprises by the Fleet may be attributed to that cause, and no blame 
can be attached to the leader, whose whole character was a guarantee 
that, trusting implicitly to the powers of those under him, he 
would make a determined use of them. 

When a change was made in the chief command early inl 
February, 1915, the entire Fleet was unanimous in its regrets 
that the departing chief. Admiral von Ingenohl, who was highly 
esteemed and respected by all his officers, had not been able to 
obtain any great results. 

The command was given to Admiral von Pohl, the former Chief 
of the Naval Staff. Whilst acting in the latter capacity. 
Admiral von Pohl had brought about the U-boat trade-war on 
England, which on February 4th was notified under the form of 
a declaration that the waters round England were to be included 
in the war zone. The use of the U-boat in this connection opened 
up a new field for the conduct of naval warfare and might prove 
of the greatest importance on the issue of the war. The neces- 
sity of resorting to it arose from the nature of the English method 
of conducting naval warfare, and will be discussed in detail in 
a later section. 

The action of the Fleet under Pohl's leadership coincided with 


Germany's High Sea Fleet 

the views held by him when Chief of the Naval Staff — that 
the maintenance of the Fleet intact at that stage of the war was 
a necessity. His plan was by frequent and constant advances 
of the entire High Sea Fleet to induce the enemy to operate in the 
North Sea, thus either assuring incidental results or leading to a 
decisive battle under favourable conditions to ourselves, that 
is to say, so close to our own waters that, even if the actual battle 
were undecided, the enemy's total losses, owing to the Icmger 
route home with his damaged ships, would be much greater than 

He therefore determined to make such advances with the 
strongest possible forces at every possible opportunity. There 
was to be no lack of important units, such as torpedo-boats 
or indispensable fighting vessels, whether battleships T>r battle- 
cruisers. The advances were not to be pushed farther forward 
than was compatible with the plan of fighting closer to our 
own than to the enemy waters; therefore, they did not extend a 
greater distance than could be covered in a night or a day. 
Owing to our shortage of cruisers, our scouting was inadequate 
and had to be supplemented by aerial means. Before any en- 
counter with the enemy, and during an advance, every precaution 
had to be taken to prevent our being exposed to any damage 
from submarines; moreover, a careful search for mines, the 
driving away of enemy submarines from our coastal waters, 
precautions to be observed by torpedo-boats against submarine 
attacks, and the highest possible speed while under way, were 
all matters of the greatest importance. Besides the preparedness 
of the Fleet, fine weather was a primary necessity to the fulfil- 
ment of all plans of this kind, and thus it was not always possible 
to make a forward movement. 

During the months of February and March, therefore, only 
two advances were made, while in the more favourable period of 
April and May there were four. But in none of these enterprises 
was there any encounter with the enemy. They were carried out 
in a westerly to north-westerly direction from Heligoland at a 
distance of about too to 120 nautical miles, thus presenting a 
considerably wider area for our airships, but they failed to locate 
the enemy. On May 18, during one of these advances, the light 
cruiser Danzig, when forty-five nautical miles from Heligoland, 
ran into a minefield, but was able to reach dock under her own 


The Year of the War 1915 

Whenever the news of our putting to sea reached the enemy^ 
as we gathered from his wireiess messages and certain other means, 
he began to make a move, but he never left the northern part 
of the North Sea. The enemy thus left to us that area of the 
sea in which our movements took place, and we observed a similar 
method of procedure with regard to him, so that a meeting between 
the two Fleets seemed very improbable. If it was the enemy's object 
to entice us nearer to his coasts, he failed to achieve it; we did 
not favour him by adapting our course of action to suit his 
pleasure. Admiral von Pohl considered that a big surplus of forces 
was necessary for an offensive of that kind, and if it was available 
for the enemy it certainly was not for us. 

Although there seemed little prospect of an advance for our Fleet, 
the Commander-in-Chief, in spite of the danger from submarines 
that it involved, never ceased in his reconnoitring efforts, for only 
by such means could efficiency in the navigation of the ships be 
secured and familiarity gained with the dangers of the submarines 
and mines. 

The Commander-in-Chief was of opinion that the enemy would 
su£fer most from the U-boat and mine-warfare ; but after the U-boat 
trade-war was started, very few of those boats could be told off 
to seek out the English Grand Fleet. An advance of mine-laying 
steamers to the English bases in the north could only lead to 
needless sacrifice of the boats. 

The auxiliary cruiser Meteor f under the command of Captain 
von Knorr, certainly made two successful trips, but the ship was 
lost on the second. At her christening she had received the 
name of the gunboat commanded by that ofiicer's father, Admiral 
yon Knorr, of many years' service, which in 1870 had distinguished 
herself in a fight with the French cruiser Bouvei, off Havana. On 
May 30 this new Meteor had gone to the White Sea, returning 
thence to Kiel on June 20, bringing in several prizes. In 
August a fresh expedition was made to the Moray Firth with 
the object of laying mines off this English naval station. Just 
as she had completed the greater part of this task, the Meteor 
was seen by an English guardship, the Ramsay, which was at 
once torpedoed and sunk. Captain von Knorr rescued four ofiicers 
and thirty-nine of the crew, and then started to return. The sink- 
ing ship had managed to call up help, so that in the course of 
the next day the Meteor found herself encircled by English 
cruisers. The captain, with his crew and his prisoners, transferred 


Germany's High Sea Fleet 

just in time to a Swedish sailing-vessel and sank his ship. The 
enemy, on arriving, took no notice of the Swedish ship, and when 
a Norwegian vessel came along Knprr handed over the prisoners 
to her, as it would have been impossible for so many to remain 
on board the Swede for any length of time. The crew from the 
Meteor were taken on board a ship sent to meet them off Sylt. 

The different advances made during the summer months did 
not impress the Fleet with the idea that any serious effort was 
contemplated of getting at closer quarters with the enemy and 
challenging him to action, although the addition made to the forces 
of the now complete Squadron III rendered us more than ever 
capable of chancing it. Even among the Naval Staff under 
Admiral Bachmann the opinion prevailed that the policy of hold- 
ing back the Fleet was bieing carried too far. But no one there 
would issue an order that would involve greater risk than the Com- 
mander-in-Chief of the Fleet, guided by his acquired convictions, 
was himself inclined to run. 

The restrictions enforced by the previous Onnmand, not to 
expose the Fleet to serious losses in the gaining of a prescribed 
objective, had meanwhile been swept away. The Fleet Command 
had merely been notified that the necessary caution, by means of 
reconnaissance, must be observed in all enterprises, and that action 
should be broken off if unfavourable conditions arose. 

So far as the Fleet was concerned, the general situation of the 
war had altered very much to our advantage through the successes 
achieved by the Army on the Eastern Front. For the Fleet the 
only object in the war lay now in fighting English power at sea, 
for there was no longer any question of a Russian landing on our 
Baltic coast. 

The situation, indeed, had veered round directly opposite, and the 
question was whether we should threaten the Russians with a land- 
ing. Our squadron IV was therefore detached and sent to the 
Baltic at the beginning of June. It was composed of the ships 
of the " Wittelsbach " class, under the command of Vice-Admiral 
Schmidt. Scouting Division IV and Torpedo-Boat Flotilla VIII 
were also detached from the Fleet for the Baltic, and placed 
at the disposal of the Commander-in-Chief there. Any important 
naval action with a view to defeating Russia was, as already 
pointed out, quite purposeless. On account of the enormous area 
of that Empire, the cutting off of imports by sea could not inflict 
any mortal injury. Any maritime enterprises would be in the 


The Year of the War 1915 

nature of support to the operations of the army, by ensuring safety 
in the use of the more suitable sea route for the transport of troops 
and war material to the Gulf of Riga, or when the town itself was 
taken by the army, then to protect it against attacks from the 

The Russians, who had always shown great skill in their use 
of mines, had laid down masses of them in the Gulf of Riga. The 
removal of such a minefield to enable a division of our shfps to enter 
the Gulf was a difficult undertaking. Meanwhile the occupation 
of LiSau a£forded a very desirable point of support. The actual 
forcing of the Gulf of Riga began early in August. 1/^1^ 

An opportunity was thus provided of proving whether England 
was willing to attempt an entry into the Baltic in order to assist 
her Allies. In that case we would be compelled to move our 
forces stationed in the east to the west portion of the Baltic. In 
anticipation of the necessity of quickly transferring large divisions 
of the Fleet to the Baltic, Squadron III was moved to the 
Elbe, whither the Commander-in-Chief of the Fleet, on board 
the Ffiedfich der Grosse, had also betaken himself so as to be 
ready if required to assume command in the Baltic. 

But the English had no intention of altering their line of action ; 
they continued to rely on the effectiveness of their barriers. They had 
withdrawn the line of guardships at the north entrance to the North 
Sea in the direction of the Faroe Islands, as a permanent patrol of 
the line from the Shetland Isles to the Norwegian coast was con- 
sidered too dangerous owing to our U-boats. The loss of the 
cruiser Hawke and the attack on the Theseus, carried out by 
"U29," under command of Lieut. -Commander Weddigen— after- 
wards killed — induced them to change their guard system and to 
depend chiefly on auxiliary cruisers. They had also succeeded in 
forcing neutral shipping to submit to examination at their naval 
base in the Orkney Islands. 

The U-boat trade-war, which was thought to be our most 
eflfective counter-measure against the blockade, had started 
bravely, but owing to America's protests soon took on a very 
modest form. The obligation imposed on the U-boats, first to make 
sure whether they were dealing with neutral steamers or not, was 
bound inevitably to lead to many casualties on account of the mis- 
use of flags by the English. 

In the middle of July two more valuable boats, "U 23" and 
"U 36," were lost. The only survivor from the latter was a petty 


Germany's High Sea Fleet 

officer of the name of Lamm ; he had been entrusted with the task of 
bringing in as prize to the Elbe the American ship Pciss of Balmaha, 
bound for Archangel with cotton, which had been captured when 
going round Scotland. He succeeded in achieving this purpose, 
although on arriving at Cuxhaven we discovered, to our great sur- 
prise, that an English officer and four men were on board. They 
had been kept secure during the voyage by this one German petty 
officer, and were then handed over as prisoners. 

Although in this instance the prize was brought in successfully, 
there was no general possibility of the U-boats being able to spare 
any of their crew to bring larger ships into a home port. On the 
west coast of the British Isles the U-boat trade-war entirely ceased 
from the middle of September. 

In August our torpedo-boats notified a success during a night 
attack. On August i8. Flotilla II, Captain Schuur, returning from 
a reconnaissance trip, encountered north of Horns Reef an English 
flotilla consisting of one light cruiser and eight destroyers. The 
visibility conditions on our side were so excellent that, apparently 
unobserved, our craft approached the enemy to within 3,000 metres. 
Three torpedoes fired from the leading boat hit and sank the 
English cruiser and the destroyer next to her. The other destroyers 
made off, probably thinking they had got into a minefield. 

A raid on London carried out the same night by the new air- 
ships "L " 10, II and 14, and the favourable news received 
from the Baltic theatre of war of the successful bombardment of 
the Slava in the Gulf of Riga and the destruction of several gun- 
boats and torpedo-boats, added greatly to the day's success. 

The Fleet's Baltic enterprise was broken off at the end of August, 
as at that time the Army had no troops available to support the 
entrance of the Fleet into the Gulf of Riga, and no importance 
was attached then to the possession of the town. Besides the 
desired opportunity of confronting the enemy with the Fleet, the 
investigation of conditions to be reckoned with in the conduct of 
the war, in relation to the conquest two years later of the Baltic 
Islands, was of importance. Apart from the loss of some of our 
lighter craft while engaged in searching for mines, the battle- 
cruiser Moltke was the only vessel to be damaged. She was hit in 
her bow by a torpedo. About 450 tons of water poured into the 
vessel, which, however, was able to pass through the Kaiser- 
Wilhelm Canal and make for a repairing dock at Hamburg, where 
the damage was made good in a few weeks' time. 


The Year of the War 1915 

Owing to a diflference of opinion between the heads of the Navy 
and the Government concerning the conduct of the U-boat warfare, 
a change in the post of Chief of the Naval Staff was effected 
early in September. Admiral Bachmann returned to his former 
post as Chief of the station at Kiel, and was replaced by 
Admiral von HoItzendorfF. 

The latter, in January, 1913, resigned the command of the Fleet, 
which he had held during the previous three years. A brilliant 
officer, of a very active mind, and possessed of great eloquence 
and personal charm, he was a splendid seaman, who, by virtue 
of the varied positions he had held, could look back upon an 
unusually long spell of foreign service. He was a chivalrous and 
amiable personality in whose character courtesy was a prevailing 
quality. It was a known fact, however, that he was not on 
friendly terms with the State Secretary, Grand-Admiral von 
Tirpitz. Strained relations between the two persons who were 
called upon to control the Navy in time of war could not serve to 
further the cause, in spite of the best intentions of both parties, 
which one was bound to assume. The association, however, involved 
no change in the fundamental views respecting the Fleet's duties in 
the war. 

In September the Fleet again advanced in the direction of the 
Hoofden, and at the same time mines were laid by the light 
cruisers. Fresh minefields were discovered which in part were 
noticeable from having mines attached near the surface.* These 
new mines lay in the centre of the arc from Horns Reef to Borkum. 
Taken in connexion with previously discovered minefields closer 
inland off the North and East Frisian Islands, the conclusion was 
arrived at that the English purpose was to encircle that part of the 
Bight with mines. According to reports from steamers, a number 
of English ships, five large ones among them, had been met with 
the day before in that district. 

The opening of the great Anglo-French autumn offensive on 
the Western Front, together with the news that the English Fleet 
was also taking part, kept our Fleet in a perpetual state of tension, 
although no opportunity was offered for any action, as the report 
proved to be untrue. 

In September our airships "L " i, 11, 13, 14, 15 and 16 were able 

* These are mines which through some error in reckoning the depth of the 
water, instead oi reaching the desired depth below the surface, have floated up again 
sufficiently to be seen, and are (therefore the more easily avoided. 


Germany's Hi^ Sea Fleet 

to carry out a very effective raid, when all the airships reached 
London and returned safely in spite of very strong counter-action. 

Greater activity on the part of the Fleet during the autumn months 
was prevented owing to the ships of Squadron III being forced 
to remain for a long time in dock in order to be fitted with range- 
finders and because, on most of the ships, the bearings of the 
screw shafts had to be renewed. Owing to the ships lying so con- 
stantly in the sandy waters of the Jade basin they had suffered far 
more than was the case in peace time, when they were either out in 
the open sea or were lying in the clear and calm waters of the 

In October the Fleet attempted an advance in the usual way 
and in a northerly direction, but did not get beyond the latitude 
of Horns Reef, where the wind rose so high as to make aerial 
reconnaissance and the use of torpedo-boats doubtful, and the 
enterprise was broken off. 

During the months of November and December the separate 
units in turn were given opportunity for gun practice in the Baltic. 
This break in the monotonous outpost duty on the Jade was a very 
welcome one for the crews, although it by no means signified a 
lessening of daily duty, as the time at their disposal had to be used 
to the utmost advantage so as not to prolong unnecessarily their 
absence fiom the North Sea. Whilst at Christmas a short frost set 
in, opening a prospect of carrying out the Commander-in-Chief's 
plan of an enterprise into the North Sea, the weather soon changed 
again, and lasting well into January there ensued a period of 
bad weather that prevented expeditions of any kind, even searches 
for mines. 

On January 8, 1916, Admiral von Pohl was taken seriously ill and 
transferred to a hospital ship, whence he was later conveyed 
to Berlin for an operation. He never recovered and died on 
February 23. In him the Navy lost an officer of quite exceptional 
steadfastness and devotion to duty; one who exacted much from 
himself and who was entirely wrapped up in his calling. As 
commander and squadron chief he distinguished himself by sea- 
manlike assurance in manoeuvres and a correct grasp of the tactical 
situation, so that under his leadership in battle the best results 
might have been expected. His highest ambition was to live to 
see it, but it was not to be granted to him. 

Thanks to the confidence in me of the All-Highest War-Lord, 
I was appointed to deputise for Admiral von Pothl, and represented 


The Year of the War 1915 

him until my formal appointment as Commander-in-Chief of the 
High Sea forces was issued on January i8. 

In the first place I procured information respecting enterprises 
that were proceeding and those in prospect. The bad weather pre- 
vented their being carried out^ with the exception that one steamer 
botmd for East Africa undertook, without any escort, to set out 
on the voyage, hoping to get through best under those conditions. 

The auxiliary cruiser Moewe, commanded by Count zu Dohna, 
had shortly before, with U-boat escort, safely reached the North 
Atlantic, but we had had no further news of her. 

I begged to have Captain von Trotha, commander of the battle- 
ship Kaiser, as my Chief of Sta£f, and Captain von Levetzow, 
commander of the large cruiser Moltke, as Chi^ of the Operating 
Division. I had previously served for a long time with both those 
officers, and they both declared themselves ready to take over their 
new duties. It appeared to me an important matter to make a 
change in these posts and thus show the Fleet my complete in- 
dependence in that and all matters. All other members of the Fleet 
Staff retained their positions. They comprised : Captain Hans 
Quaet-Faslem, Captain Dietrich Meyer, Lieut .-Commander Heuin- 
ger von Waldegg as Admiral's Staff Officer of the Operating 
Division; Captain Paul Reymann, Admiral's Staff Officer for 
torpedo- and U-boats; Captain Walther Franz, Admiral's Staff 
Officer for Artillery; Captain Wilke, Fleet Navigation Officer; 
Captain Bindseil, Flag-Lieutenant for Wireless Telegraphy; 
Lieut. Commander Weizsacker, Flag-Lieutenant; Chief Naval En- 
gineer Schutzler, Fleet Engineer; Chief Naval Surgeon Dr. Cudden, 
Fleet Surgeon; Chief Naval Chaplin Klein, Catholic Priest to the 
Navy; Stollhof, Chief Councillor to the Navy; Coster, Staff Pay- 
master to the Navy; Paul Wulff, Secretary to the Fleet. I feel 
deeply indebted to all these gentlemen for the devoted and un- 
tiring assistance they rendered to the Fleet and to myself in their 
respective posts. 

My very special gratitude is due to Rear-Admiral von Trotha, 
my Chief of Staff, on whose prudent and circumspect judgment 
I invariably relied. He supplemented in the happiest manner the 
keen and eager leader of the Operating Division, Captain von 
Levetzow. They were both upright men with independent views 
based on much learning, who stood by their opinions, were closely 
linked in faithful comradeship, and formed a circle to which I look 
back with pride and gratitude. 




AFTER taking over command of the Fleet my first and most\ im- 
portant task was to draw up a pian for the future tactics of the 
High Sea Fleet and to work out a programme of operatfons. The 
success hitherto of the conduct of naval warfare lay in the effect pro- 
duced by the existence of the Fleet, the coastal defence, the influence 
exercised on neutrals, and the support given to the Army. The 
conviction that English maritime power was a serious menace to 
our capability of resistance seemed to make it imperative that, if 
a successful issue of the war were to be expected, it must be 
waged far more energetically against that adversary. Tfa^ was 
no question of England giving in unless she was mad^po feel 
the pressure of war at home much more forcibly than hitherto 
had been the case. After having carried out her transport of troops 
from overseas on a much larger scale than was anticipated, thereby 
imposing on the country great sacrifices both of money and men, 
her determination for war was bound to increase, in order to reap 
the benefits of those efforts and to compensate for the blunders 
made, such as the surrender of Antwerp and the abandonment of 
the Dardanelles enterprise. So far, the war, for England, was 
merely a question of money and men. There was no lack of either, 
thanks to the support from the Ck>lonies, the systematic manner 
in which volunteers were pressed into Kitchener's Army, and the 
ruthless employment of coloured auxiliaries. 

Thus England was better able to stand the war for a lengthened 
period than we were, if the hunger blockade were to continue to 
oppress the country. The English public never thought of urging 
the Fleet to more active warfare ; its object was achieved without its 
being weakened or being forced to make undue sacrifices. The 
nation readily understood this, especially when it was made clear 
to them that the Fleet had succeeded in keeping open those over- 
seas communications on which the country was so dependent. This 
fact was specially brought into prominence by the destruction of 
our cruiser squadron oflF the Falkland Islands. 

. 96 

Preparations for Increased Fleet Activity 

The danger from the U-boat warfare, which at first appeared 
serious, was reduced to slight importance owing to the* mutual 
interests with America. But when the danger really was recog- 
nised, England 'prepared to ward it off, and did splendid work 
in this connection. On our part, the conduct of naval warfare in 
191 5 was less satisfactory. Even though we succeeded in prevent- 
ing the neutrals from joining our opponents, it always remained 
an open question to what cause it could be attributed. If the utility of 
our High Sea Fleet were not made more distinctly manifest, then 
its deeds were not sufficient to justify its existence and the vast 
sums exacted from the resources of our people for its mainten- 
ance. The principal task stood out clearly defined — to punish 
England in such a way as to deprive her speedily and thoroughly 
of the inclination to continue the war. That might be expected 
if success could be achieved either by a blow at her sea power centred 
in her Navy, or at her financial life — preferably both. 

TI^ continued numerical superiority of the English Fleet 
from"^e beginning of the war kept us at a disadvantage; but, 
from a purely tactical point of view, our Battle Fleet, by the addi- 
tion of four ships of the ** Konig " class, was very diflFerently 
organised from formerly, when Squadron II had to form part of 
the fighting line and was confronted in battle with " Dreadnoughts " 
with which it could not possibly cope. From the beginning of 191 5 
we also had had a double squadron of " Dreadnought ^ ships at our 
disposal (Squadrons I and III) and were therefore better able to avoid 
bringing the ships of Squadron II into a situation in battle where 
they must inevitably have suffered losses. Certainly the English 
had added greatly to their fighting powers by ships of the "Queen 
Elizabeth" class which must have been ready early in 1915. They 
carried guns of 38-c.m. calibre, were strongly armour-plated, and 
had a speed of 25 knots, in all of which they were nominally the 
same as our battle-cruisers, whereas in the strength of their attack 
they appeared to be vastly superior to all our vessels. 

The then prevailing conditions of strength kept us from seek- 
ing a decisive battle with the enemy. Our conduct of the naval war 
was rather aimed at preventing a decisive battle being forced 
on us by the enemy. This might perhaps occur if our tactics 
began to be so troublesome to him that he would try at all costs 
to get rid of the German Fleet. It might, for instance, become 
necessary, if the U-boat war succeeded again in seriously threaten- 
ing English economic life. Should the English thus manoeuvre for 
H 97 

Germany's High Sea Fleet 

a decisive battle, they could fix the time so as to allow the full use 
of their vast superiority, whereas some of our ships would be either 
under repair or otherwise unfit for service, or absent in the Baltic 
for exercises, of which the enemy would be well informed. 

But for us to get into touch with the English Fleet, a definite and 
systematic operation would have had to be carried out with the 
view of compelling the enemy to give up his waiting tactics and 
send out forces which would provide us with favourable conditions 
of attack. The methods previously employed had failed. Either 
they were undertaken with inferior forces — in the case of an 
advance by cruisers the Main Fleet could not intervene in time 
to be of use— or else, as in most of the 19 15 enterprises, they had 
not pushed on far enough for an encounter with important units of 
the enemy Fleet. 

If we wished to attempt an effective and far-reaching offensive, it 
was necessary that we should be masters in our own house. 
The waters of our coast must be so controlled that we could be 
left free to develop and have no fear of being surprised and called 
out against our will. With the exception of the Fleet, we had 
nothing that the enemy could attack, as unfortunately our maritime 
trade had been put down from the beginning. The enemy, how- 
ever, was still vulnerable in so many places that it was surely 
possible to find ample opportunity to make him feel the gravity of 
the war I 

The ways and means of effecting this were the U-boat trade- 
war, mines, trade-war in the North and on the open seas, aerial 
warfare and aggressive action of the High Sea forces in the North 
Sea. The U-boat and aerial warfare had already started; the three 
other factors were to be operated in combination. The activities in 
the near future were laid down «in a programme of operations 
submitted to the Naval" Staff Md their general sanction obtained. 
Above all things, %very l^^der; as well as each commander, was to 
be told his part, so as to f^litate and encourage independent action 
in accordance with the connRned plan. 

The first and most important task was the safety of the German 
Bight. Fresh rules were laid down dealing with the action of 
the Fleet when in the Bight, and instructions issued concerning 
protection and outpost duty. Arrangements were also made as 
to action under an enemy attack which would save waiting for 
lengthy orders in an urgent emergency, and would render it 
possible for all subordinate officers to play the part expected of 


Preparations for Increased Fleet Activity 

them in such an event. The aim of the organisation was to keep 
the Bight clear by means of aeroplanes, outpost flotillas, mine- 
sweeping fonnations, and barrier-breakers, and regular reconnais- 
sance, guard, and mine-searching service was established. The 
outpost-boats were to form a support for the active protective craft in 
the North Sea, be sufficiently strong to meet a surprise hostile 
attack and always ready to pick up at sea any forces returning 
to harbour. The command of the protective services was, as 
hitherto, retained by the Chief of the Reconnaissance. The 
actual aerial reconnaissance in the vicinity was undertaken by 
aeroplanes and airships from the stations at List— on the island of 
Sylt — Heligoland, and Borkum. The North Sea Outpost Flotilla, 
the Coastal Defence Flotilla from the Ems, and boats of the Harbour 
Flotilla, were ready for guard service; their duties consisted chiefly 
in driving away enemy submarines. As a rule, the following 
positions were occupied: — 

The List Group : The •waters off List (to keep neutral fishing 
boats out of German, coastal waters). 

The North Group : The Amrum Bank passage. 

Line i : The Heligoland — Hever Line. 

Line 2 : The Heligoland — Outer Jade Line. 

The Outer Group: The Jade — Nordemey line and the barrier 
opening at Norderney. 

Heligoland boats: North and West of the island. 

Jade boats: Off the Jade. 

S. Group: Three boats (chiefly intended to fight enemy sub- 
marines, or for other special duties, as, for instance, the cutting of 

The chief object of these outpost boats was to search the Inner 
German Bight for enemy submarines, for which purpose they set 
out every day in groups from the lines where they were stationed. 
The service of the outpost boats, some eighty fishing steamers, 
was so arranged that half were on duty for three days and then had 
three days off. The Ems Coastal Defence Flotilla had the guarding 
of the waters off East and West Ems, and westward to about 
6 degrees E. Longitude. The Harbour Flotilla boats joined in 
when there was a chase after submarines which might have shown 
themselves at the mouth of the river. A torpedo-boat flotilla stationed 
on the Ems also did duty when required, and helped further to 
ensure the safety of the sea area off the Ems. 


Germany's High Sea Fleet 

The regular mine-sweeping service consisted of two Mine- 
sweeping Divisions and one Auxiliary Flotilla. The latter was 
composed of vessels that had only been requisitioned for the purpose 
since the war, and were mostly trawlers. They were specially 
suitable for the North Sea, owing to their sea-going qualities, but 
we lost several of them because of their deep draught. When a 
mine-sweeping division was off duty the crews were billeted 
at Cuxhaven, while the men on leave from the half-flotilla of the 
Auxiliary Flotilla were quartered at Wilhelmshaven. For their 
mine-sweeping duties all those boats were armed in order that they 
might be prepared to fight submarines. As soon as hostile sub- 
marines were sighted within their area they had to stop their mine- 
sweeping and take part in the chase. 

The barrier-breaker service consisted of three groups of barrier- 
breakers to every four steamers, internally constructed so as to 
enable them to keep afloat should they strike a mine. At the 
outbreak of war we had no apparatus whatever for sweeping up 
mines and protecting the steamers. Every effort was made, how- 
ever, to invent such an apparatus, which, as soon as it had been 
tested, was at once supplied to the barrier-breakers and the mine- 
searching division. 

Special credit is due to Captain Walter Krah, Chief of the 
Auxiliary Mine-Flotilla, who profited by much practical experience 
and was successful in his efforts to avert unnecessary losses in his 
flotilla. It was the duty of the barrier-breaker group to protect 
the navigation of certain channels, chiefly those where our mine- 
laying divisions had been at work, and to make sure that no mines 
had been laid by the enemy in the interval. The activity of our mine- 
layers could not be entirely concealed from the enemy. When they 
were working in the inner section of the Bight, the enemy submarines 
had every opportunity for their observations, and the farther 
the mine belt was pushed out in the North Sea the nearer it drew 
to the area of English observation planes. The English were in 
advance of us with the Curtis plane, a hydroplane which, even with 
a considerable sea running, was able to keep on the water and 
so husband its strength. 

The search for, and the chasing of, hostile submarines was 
principally the business of the torpedo-boats. The outpost boats 
had, of course, to keep a look-out for submarines, and had to 
follow up on any occasion when there was a chance of fighting 
them; but they had not the speed, nor were their numbers 


■ •: 

Pfeparations for Increased Fleet 'Activl'tV*'''- 



sufficient to carry out a systematic search and pursuit. The torpedo- 
boats of the outpost service were told off for that purpose. The 
same flotillas were employed when there was a question of warding 
off the submarines from any ships or units engaged in special 
enterprises. The safety of the German Bight at night — ^to ensure 
which the guardships were too far apart besides being inadequate in 
armament — was further ensured by torpedo-boat patrols taken from 
the outpost service which cruised along the line of guardships and 
the shores of the German Bight. 

In order not to keep the entire Fleet constantly under steam and 
thus overtire both men and machinery and use up material to no pur- 
pose, and yet provide that they should be ready with considerable 
forces for any enemy enterprises, an outpost service was organised. 
In the Jade there lay always in readiness a squadron of battleships, 
two battle-cruisers, a cruiser-leader of torpedo-boats, and a torpedo- 
boat flotilla; a scouting division of light cruisers were in the 
Jade and the Weser, a torpedo-boat flotilla in Heligoland harbour, 
half the ships of Squadron II in the Cuxhaven Roads, at Altenbruch ; 
and, if sufficient torpedo-boats were available, another torpedo-boat 
half-flotilla was stationed on the Ems or in List Deep (at Sylt) — 
constituting approximately half the total forces of the High Sea 
Fleet. The ships were kept clear to put to sea from their station 
three-quarters of an hour after the order reached them. The torpedo- 
boat flotilla at Heligoland was held ready to run out immediately, 
and the flotilla on the Jade three-quarters of an hour after receipt 
of an order. 

The outpost forces were under the command of the Senior Naval 
Commander stationed on the Jade. In the event of a sudden enemy 
attack, his duty was to arrange independently for the necessary 
measures of defence, and to exercise the command. If the High 
Sea Command had any duty to assign to him, it was restricted 
to a suggestion or general directions, as, for instance, to station 
torpedo-boats at such and such a place at daybreak, leaving the rest 
to be carried out by the Chief of the U-boat forces. 

The other ships, not belonging to the outpost service, lay, half 
of them in harbour (about a fourth part of the fleet), the other half 
remaining on the inner roads at Wilhelmshaven or Brunsbuttel. 
The torpedo-boats off outpost duty were always allowed to enter 
harbours. The ships off duty had to seize that opportunity to carry 
out such necessary repairs as could be done by their own men; 
ships that had been long in dock for refitting and repairs were 


•• • !• • _ • • 

• •• : :• :%/ 

•'•::..: A Germany's High Sea Fleet 

regarded as being in the same category. The usual preparedness 
of ships lying in the inner roads and in harbour was fixed at three 
hours. But whenever news came which seemed to necessitate the 
calling out of the ships, orders were issued to hurry the preparations, 
the entire crew remained on board, and the ships kept ready, on 
receipt of further orders, to weigh anchor at once. 

These far-reaching measures for the protection of the German 
Bight were, above all, intended to ensure that the Fleet should be 
able to take up a position in line if it was deemed advisable to pass 
out in expectation of an enemy attack. General regulations were 
issued for two eventualities; the one, in case information and 
messages were received announcing an impending hostile attack, and 
the other, in case the enemy came entirely unexpectedly. It was not 
long before there was an opportunity to test them in practice. 

Finally the defence resources of the German Bight were improved 
by adding to the already existing minefields, partly by laying them 
adjacent to those laid by the enemy, which he was forced to avoid. 
The intention of establishing a safe area for assembling within 
the line Horns Reef — Terschelling, was soon carried out, as the 
enemy laid his minefields in still further concentric rings outside 
that line. 

Constant navigation and firing exercises by separate units as 
well as by the assembled Fleet, were carried on within this zone, 
and they were very rarely interrupted by an alarm of submarines. 
The dispatch of units for practice in the Baltic was no longer so 
necessary, and the readiness of the Fleet for action was perceptibly 

Heligoland, which at the beginning of the war was our advanced 
outpost, had thus assumed the character of a point of support in 
the rear, from which radiated a free zone extending over a radius 
of I20 nautical miles. Unfortunately the island never had occasion 
to use her excellent armament on the enemy. But the newly con- 
structed harbour was of great service to the light forces of the Fleet, 
besides which the possession of the island was indispensable in 
order that a fleet might be able to leave our estuaries. 

Even though security from enemy attacks was necessary and 
called for immediate action, nevertheless a still more important 
duty was that of attacking and injuring the enemy. To this end 
various enterprises were started. Foremost among these were 
nocturnal advances by light forces in the boundary area of the 
German Bight in order to destroy enemy forces stationed there, the 


Preparations for Increased Fleet Activity 

holding up of suspicious craft, and readiness to afford help to 
airships raiding England, which always took place at night. These 
advances were carried out by several flotillas led by an escorting 
cruiser. They were supported by a scouting division of light 
cruisers sent either to the Ems or to a certain quadrant in the North 
Sea. The battle-cruisers were told off to the Schillig Roads, or 
deployed in line at sea; all other outpost ships were held in strictest 
readiness, and all measures were taken to ensure the speedy 
intervention of vessels lying in the Roads. In this way, the entire 
Fleet was kept in a certain state of tension, and unvarying alertness 
in view of eventualities at sea was maintained in order to be prepared 
at once to take part in the proceedings. 

A further system of enterprise was to prolong these nocturnal 
sallies till daybreak in order to patrol a more extended area, 
in which case the entire Fleet had to be at sea as a support. The 
furthest advanced flotillas received support from Scouting Divisions 
I and II which, reinforced by one or two flotillas, followed them at 
a suitable distance. The extension of such enterprises was designed 
to reach to the Skagerrak and the Hoof den. 

Finally, other important enterprises were planned, such as the 
bombardment of coastal towns to exercise a still greater pressure 
on the enemy and induce him to take counter-measures which would 
afford us an opportunity to engage part or the whole of his Fleet in 
battle under conditions favourable to ourselves. 

In all these enterprises the co-operation of the Naval Corps 
in Flanders was desirable by stationing their U-boats along the 
nearest stretch of coast and thereby supporting the Fleet. This 
was carried out regularly, and with the greatest readiness. 

The employment of our U-boats was of fundamental importance 
for our warfare against England. They could be used directly 
against English trade or against the English naval forces. The 
decision in the matter influenced the iterations very considerably. 
It was not advisable to embark on both methods simultaneously, 
as most probably neither would then achieve success. Also the 
poor success resulting from our U-boat action on English warships 
in the North Sea seemed to point to a decided preference for trade- 
war. In military circles, there was no doubt that success in trade- 
war could only be looked for if the U-boat were empowered to act 
according to its own special methods ; any restrictions in that respect 
would greatly reduce the chances of success. The decision in the 
matter lay in the political zone. It was therefore necessary that 


Germany's High Sea Fleet 

the political leaders should recognise what we were compelled to 
do to achieve our war aim. Hitherto our politicians, out of anxiety 
with regard to America or in order not to exasperate England to 
the utmost, had not been able to decide on energetic action against 
England in the naval war. The naval authorities, however, should 
have known what they had to reckon with in order to be able to beat 
down England's resistance. It was also their duty to protest against 
enterprises specially unsuited to the U-boat, which inevitably led to 
useless sacri^ces. 

The restricted form of U-boat warfare against English mercantile 
ships, adopted in the course of 19159 was extremely unsatisfactory. 
The damage caused thereby to her trade could be borne by England, 
and, on the other hand, the only result to us was vexation and 
disappointment, for our Fleet could obtain no support for its 
own enterprises from the U-boats. Oo-operation with separate 
units or with the entire Fleet could not be sufficiently well 
organised to prove dependable for certain operations. First 
of all, only temporary co-operation was possible in the case 
of enterprises by the Fleet and attacks by the U-boats when 
each unit had a special duty, to be mutually supplemented 
but without exacting any tactical union. If, for instance, there was 
the intention to bombard a certain coastal town, it might be assumed 
that English fighting forces would at once rush out from different 
harbours where they were lying to drive off or capture the disturbers 
of their peace. If U-boats had been stationed off such towns, where 
it was presumed there were enemy ships, they would probably have 
had a chance of attacking. 

Tactical co-operation would have been understood to mean that 
on the Fleet putting out to sea with the possibility of encountering 
the enemy, having the fixed intention of leading up to such an 
encounter, numbers of U-boats would be present from the beginning 
in order to be able to join in the battle. Even as certain rules have 
been evolved for the employment of cruisers and torpedo-boats in 
a daylight battle to support the activity of the battleship fleet, so 
might an opportunity have been found for the tactical employment of 
the U-boats. But no preliminary work had been done in that respect, 
and it would have been a very risky experiment to take U-boats 
into a battle without a thorough trial. The two principal drawbacks 
are their inadequate speed and the possibility of their not 
distinguishing between friend and foe. 

The first-mentioned method, however, offered the most varied 


Preparations for Increased Fleet Activity 

possibilities, and consideration was given as to what would be the 
most desirable way to station U-boats off enemy harbours; how 
they could be used in the form of movable mine-barriers, as fiank 
protection, or otherwise render assistance. 

In order to gain assurance in the use of U-boats and secure a 
basis for the activity of the Fleet, I went, in February, to Berlin to 
a conference with the Chief of the Naval StaflF, in which Prince 
Henry of Prussia, Commander-in-Chief of the Baltic forces, also 
took part. 

The result of this conference was the decision to come to 
close grips with England. Our chief maritime elements were to 
be centred absolutely in the North Sea, and the greatest restriction 
put on all active measures in the Baltic. Shortly afterwards an 
unrestricted U-boat warfare was to be instituted and the Naval 
Command was to make the necessary preparations. March i was 
the date on which it was intended to begin, as General von 
Falkenhayn, Chief of the General Staff, recognising the importance 
of England's contribution to the hostile resisting forces, had given 
up his previous scruples concerning the unrestricted U-boat warfare. 

On January 31, nine airships set out for an attack on England : 
"L" II, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 19, 20, and 21. On this occasion Liverpool 
was reached for the first time, where doubtless large quantities of 
war material from America were stored. Several other large factory 
towns in central England were also bombed, which they hardly 
expected although they were of great importance on account of their 
output of munitions and war material. A cruiser on the Humber 
was hit and badly damaged, which, according to subsequent 
information, was the new light cruiser Caroline (3,810 tons). The 
farther such air-raids spread over the country the greater would be 
the efforts made to defend the most important places, involving the 
withdrawal from the principal scene of war of guns, airmeg, gunners 
and munitions to protect England from danger from the air. 

Although the chief objective of every air-raid was London, where 
the Admiralty controlled the whole Naval war, and where the 
docks and the mouth of the Thames represented many other 
important objectives, to destroy which was highly necessary for the 
continuation of the war, still wind and weather did not always allow 
of its being attained. Sometimes during the flight of the airships 
they would be obliged to deviate from their plan of attack for other 
reasons than wind and weather. Therefore all airships that went 
up were given a general order to attack England in the south, centre 


Germany^s High Sea Fleet 

and north. "South *' signified the Thames, "centre," the Humber, 
and "north," the Firth of Forth. These three estuaries were the 
main points of support for the English Fleet, and were amply 
provided with all kinds of naval and mercantile shipbuilding works. 
The direction of the attack, whether south, centre or north, was 
determined by the wind, as the airships usually had the wind 
against them in going, in order, on the return journey, to have it 
behind in case they had to cope with damage or engine trouble. 

Commander Odo Lowe, "L 19," never returned from an attack 
made during the night of January 31 — February i, 1916. On the 
return journey the airship, owing to fog, found itself over Dutch 
territory, and was fired at, not being at a very great altitude. Owing 
to the damage done, when it again came over the water it was un- 
able to rise on account of a strong northerly wind, and so was 
forced to come down at about 100 nautical miles from the English 
coast, in a line with Grimsby. It was seen there in a sinking 
conditlcHi by a steam trawler (King Stephen) which, although within 
hailing distance, allowed the helpless crew to perish in the waves. 
This shameful deed was publicly acclaimed by an English bishop — 
a strange manifestation of his Christian principles I The behaviour 
of that bishop is so typical of English mentality that it is worth while 
adding a short comment on it. Two points are invariably and 
entirely lacking in English views on the war: they never admit 
the " necessity of war " for their opponent and never recognise the 
difference between unavoidable severity and deliberate brutality. 
The Englishman thinks it quite justifiable to establish a blockade 
in the North Sea which exposes his naval forces to a mere minimum 
of danger, and pays no heed to the rules of International Law. 
That the consequence of the blockade was to bring starvation 
on the entire German nation — ^the step indeed was taken with that 
avowed purpose--does not in the least affect his feelings for 
humanity. He employs the means that serve his war aims, and no 
objection could be raised did he allow the same to hold good for 
the enemy. But instead — whether in conscious or unconscious 
hypocrisy is an open question — he raises indignant opposition to 
all counter-measures. Our air-raids caused injury to civilians. It 
was mevitable, when institutions serving war purposes were so 
close to populous districts — perhaps with a view to secure protection 
for them. To the Englishman, it was of no mcnnent that the airship 
crews exposed themselves to the greatest personal danger in thus 
fighting for their suffering Fatherland. Accustomed as he was to 


Preparations for Increased Fleet Activity 

carrying on a war with hirelings, and mostly abroad, he considered 
any personal encroachment on his comfort as a crime against 
humanity and made a terrible ado to increase favour for his cause. 
English behaviour in the mine*war is an example of this. 

At the second Peace Conference at the Hague, Satow,* an English 
delegate raised a violent protest against a decision authorising the 
laying of mines in the open sea, in view of the danger to neutral 
shipping. In spite of this, an extensive area at the eastern egress 
from the Channel was mined by the English. Success in war, 
in their view, stood higher than their former principles and professed 
consideration for the neutrals. Our mine-warfare along the English 
coast was cried down as a terrible crime, although it is distinctly 
allowed by the Hague regulations. The same hypocrisy concerning 
what the rights of war conceded to the one or the other belligerents 
is also prevalent in English professional literature. According to 
English ideas it is quite right and correct that the English Fleet, 
in spite of its double numerical superiority, does not consider it 
necessary to advance to the German coast. But when the weaker 
German Fleet refrained from committing what obviously would 
have been military errors, it was ascribed to lack of courage. When 
the English Fleet, as we see later, had in battle, in spite of twofold 
superiority, twice as many losses as the weaker adversary, it was 
still termed an English victory ! What has become of all common 
sense? After this digression we must resume. 

One of the first enterprises on the newly-drawn-up priC^ramme 
of operations was an encounter during the night of February lo — 1 1 
with English guardships off the Dogger Bank; they were in all 
probability stationed there in connection with our airship raids, 
either to give warning of their approach or to give chase on their 
way back. Torpedo-Boat Flotillas H, VI and IX, led by Captain 
Hartog, the First Leader of torpedo-boats, while patrolling at night 
came across a new type of English vessel which they at first took 
to be a cruiser, but finally decided it was a new vessel of the 
** Arabis ** class. After a brief exchange <rf shots, the vessel was 
sunk by a torpedo; the commander, some ofiicers and 28 of the 
crew were saved and taken prisoners. A second ship was also hit 
by a torpedo and observed to sink. The ships had only recently 
been built, were of 1,600 tons, had a crew of 78, slight draught, 
and a speed of 16 knots. 

On February 11 an order from the Chief of the Nayal Staff 

^ Right Hon. Sir E. Satow. 

Germany's High Sea Fleet 

was sent to the Fleet regarding the action to be observed towards 
armed enemy merchantmen. At the same time a ''Note from the 
Imperial German Government on the Treatment of Armed Merchant- 
men '* was published in the Press. This Note contained uncontestable 
proof, gathered from instructions issued by the English Government, 
and various other sources, that the armed English merchantmen 
had official orders whenever they saw and were close to German 
U-boats, maliciously to attack and wage ruthless war on them. The 
Note concluded with the following notice : 

Berlin, February 8, 1916. 

"i. Under the circumstances now prevailing, enemy mer- 
chantmen carrying guns have no longer the right to be 
considered as such. German naval forces will therefore, after 
a short respite in the interests of the neutrals, treat such ships 
as belligerents. 

"2. The German Government notifies the neutral Powers 
of the conditions in order that they may warn their subjects to 
desist from entrusting their persons and property to armed 
merchantmen belonging to the Powers at war with the Gennan 

The order to the naval forces, which out of consideration for the 
neutrals was not to come into force until February 29, was as 
follows : " Enemy merchantmen carrying guns are to be considered 
as warships and destroyed by all possible means. The officers must 
bear in mind that mistaken identity will lead to a breach with the 
neutrals and that the destruction of a merchantman because she 
is armed, must only be effected when the guns are clearly 

This new announcement from the Government, in which the 
Chief of ithe Naval Staff evidently had a share judging from 
his order to the Fleet, came as a surprise to me and appeared as 
though it were a reversal of the policy of unrestricted U-boat 
warfare which on February i had been promised for certain within a 
month, and which it now seemed doubtful would be carried out. The 
order imposed upon the officers that they should ''distinguish " the 
guns made action very difficult for the U-boat officers, and it was 
they who were chiefly concerned. For at the distance necessary 
to secure this evidence the enemy, if he vindictively opened fire, 
could hardly miss. But if a U-boat when submerged were in a 
position to attack a steamer, and could only fire a torpedo when there 
























Germany's High Sea Fleet 

was no doubt that she carried guns, the opportunity would almost 
always be lost. 

I made known my objections to the order, both verbally and 
in writing, when I had occasion in the course of the month to 
go to [Berlin; a violent north-westerly storm, which set in on 
February i6 — 17 had stopped all operations in the Fleet. I 
was informed that the intention shortly to c^n the unrestricted 
U-boat warfare still held good. An order to that effect sanctioned 
by the Emperor was already drawn up ; it merely remained to fill in 
the date of starting. This appeared to me of the greatest importance, 
and, as meanwhile the Emperor had announced his intention of 
visiting the Fleet on February 23, I took that to mean that I need 
no longer entertain any doubts. 

On the appointed day, at 10 a.m. His Majesty went on board 
the flagship Friedrich der Grosse lying in dock at Wilhelmshaven 
ready to put to sea. Besides his own personal suite, he was accom- 
panied by Grand Admiral Prince Henry of Prussia, the Secretary 
of State of the Imperial Naval Department, Admiral von Tirpitz, and 
the Chief of the Naval Staff, Admiral von Holtzendorff. It was 
the second time during the war that the Emperor had visited the 
Fleet. A little more than a year before the Emperor had introduced 
to the Fleet my predecessor in command. I had occasion to give 
a long report on the situation in the North Sea and also to express 
my opinion on the conduct of the war, for which I took as basis 
the matter of the unrestricted U-boat warfare. The Emperor 
agreed with my statements and interpreted them to a meeting of 
admirals and officers, when he spoke in laudatory terms of the 
activities and deeds of the Navy during the previous year and gave 
an explanation of the orders that had caused the Fleet to be held 
back. His Majesty then took the opportunity to remark that he 
fully approved of the order of procedure submitted to him by the 
Commander-in-Chief of the Fleet. 

This announcement was of great value to me, as thereby, in the 
presence of all the officers, I was invested with authority which 
gave me liberty of action to an extent I myself had defined. The 
intentions of the Commander-in-Chief of the Fleet were thoroughly 
understood in this circle, as I had discussed in detail the programme 
of operations and had handed it in writing to those whom it 
concerned. The date for beginning the unrestricted U-bo6t warfare 
was, however, still uncertain. When I put the question to him, the 
Emperor remarked that he could not be influenced by the military 


Preparations for Increased Fleet Activity 

suggestions only, though he recognised that they were justified, as 
besides his position as Chief War Lord, he was also responsible 
as Head of the State. Were he now to order the unrestricted U-boat 
war, it would probably meet with approval in the widest circles, but 
he must be careful that the entry into war of America on the side 
of the enemy did not give rise to consequences that might outweigh 
the advantages of unrestricted U-boat warfare. 

When convinced that this decision could not then be altered, 
and not knowing what the political counter reasons were, and since 
it was the business of the Naval Staff to come to an understanding 
with the Imperial Administration, I selected two U-boats to test 
the effect of the war under the new conditions in the war zone 
off the west coast of England, in order that a judgment might be 
formed for further plans. The commanders of the boats, " U 32 " 
(Baron von Spiegal) and " U 22 " (Hoppe), gave me a verbal report on 
their return on March 18. "U 22 *' had sunk four steamers, with about 
10,000 tons of cargo, three times as many neutral ships, but had 
been forced to let two passenger steamers get through. Owing to 
bad weather and damages "U 22 " had no success. Meanwhile other 
U-boats were on the way to operate with the same intent. The 
success of their activities had not then been reported. 

A wireless message on March 3 from the auxiliary cruiser Moewe 
was a surprising and joyful piece of news. She reported being 
stationed south-west of the Norwegian coast, and asked to be en- 
rolled in the High Sea forces. This opportunity of practically 
testing the newly established outpost service was most opportune. 
It was a point of honour for the Fleet to preserve the intrepid and 
successful raider from a disastrous end off a home harbour. But 
great was the anxiety, as the Moewe had reported clouds of smoke 
sighted in clear weather, and evidently, from the appearance, be- 
longing to a group of warships, but the distance was then too great 
to proceed to her assistance. The enemy, however, did not turn his 
attention to our cruiser, which endeavoured to give off as little smoke 
as possible, and when night fell had not been molested. Acting 
on the warnings given her, she happily escaped the further danger 
of striking any of the numerous English mines, that were unknown 
to her, between Horns Reef and Amrum Bank. Such ample pro- 
tection was afforded her by a dense fog that she passed our first 
outposts unnoticed. But the fog lifted at the right moment to 
allow the ships sent out to meet her to escort her in triumph into 
the Jade, where she received a splendid welcome. The prudent 


Germany's High Sea Fleet 

and resolute behaviour of the commander, Count zu Dohna, his 
firm belief in the success of his undertaking — lightly called *Muck " 
by some, though really based on the intrepid courage of the man, 
which spread to the entire crew — did not fail to make a deep 
impression on all of us who, on the first evening after his return, 
listened to the \ivid description of his adventures. From January i 
to February 25, 1916, the Moewe captured 15 steamers, of a total 
tonnage of 57,835 tons. The first news received of her activities 
was the arrival of the prize Appam, under Lieut. Berg, of the 
Naval Defence, at Norfolk (Virginia), carrying the crews of the 
seven steamers sunk up to then. Further news of the Moewe's 
activities was the announcement that the steamer Wesiburn, under 
command of Badswick, had been taken into Teneriffe. After 
taking his 200 prisoners into port, he sank his ship the next 
day before the eyes of the English armoured cruiser Sutlej that was 
lying in wait, so that the prize might not fall into her hands. And 
now the Mcewe had got back to us in safety I We considered her 
most important success to be the sinking of the King Edward, the 
flagship of the 3rd English Battle Squadron, which, on January 3, 
struck a mine laid by the Moewe, and owing to the damage caused, 
sank between Cape Wrath and the west ingress to the Pentland Firth. 
This encouraged our hopes that the Greif, an auxiliary cruiser 
sent out a few days previously under Captain Tieze, would have 
an equally successful trip. Unfortunately, news came to hand a 
few weeks later that she had been held up on the English guard- 
ship line between the Shetlands and Norway, and after a fierce 
fight had succumbed, but not until she had torpedoed and sunk 
the auxiliary cruiser Alcantara, a vessel three times her size. This 
first encounter, in which the Greif had already suffered severely, 
attracted a second auxiliary cruiser, the Andes, and the light 
cruiser Comus, which came up with two destroyers and joined in 
the fight. Faced by such superior forces, Tieze, after a fierce 
fight lasting two hours, left the ship, with the surviving members 
of the crew, and sank her. While the English at first took part 
in the rescue of the crew^, the Comus, according to the statements 
of prisoners since returned home, again opened fire on the life- 
boats and rafts, asserting that a U-boat had been sighted. The result 
was that several others were killed, the commander among the num- 
ber. Commander Nevetzky, First Lieut. Weddigen, and Lieut. 
Tiemann, had already been killed in the battle. About two-thirds 
of the crew were taken prisoners by the English. 




ON March 5, the day after the return of the Moewe^ the High Sea 
Fleet, under my command, carried out the first of its greater 
enterprises, partaking of the nature of a more extended advance. The 
idea prompting this move was to attack the enemy light forces 
that were constantly reported in the Hoofden, and thus attract 
support from the English harbours to the south, and if possible 
force them between the pincers formed by our advanced cruisers 
and the Main Fleet following in the rear* At daybreak the distance 
between the battleships anld the cruisers was approximately 30 
nautical miles. The cruisers were then to advance from a position 
Terschelling Bank Lightship S.S.E. 15 nautical miles to the 
Hoofden, and push on to the northern boundary of the English 
minefield. The battleships were to follow the course of the cruisers 
up to 10 A.M., when they would have reached latitude 53" 30', pro' 
vided that in the meantime our action had not been checked by 
intervening circumstances. Squadron II (the older battleships) did 
not form part of this expedition, but was held ready, with a mine- 
sweeping division, to secure the safety of the Bight, in order to 
keep the return route open for the Fleet. Two flotillas accompanied 
the cruisers; the others were with the Main Fleet. To ensure the 
safety of the proceeding an airship was allotted to the Chief of 
Reconnaissance, while other airships wer6 to reconnoitre early the 
following day in the sector north-west of Heligoland as far distant 
as 200 nautical miles, to protect the flank and rear of the Fleet. 
Should the weather the preceding night be favourable for airships, 
advantage was to be taken of it. This was carried out, and led to 
a very effective bombing of the important naval yards at Hull, on 
the Humber. 

A graphic picture of the attack is given in the description by 
one of the airship commanders who took part. Captain Victor 
Schulze, on board the **L 11," but who has since died the death 
of a hero. He writes : 

I 113 

Germany's High Sea Fleet 

**Our orders were: 'March 5, in morning, "Lii,** with 
"L13" and "L14," to attack England in the north.' At noon 
(on 4th) an ascent Was made with the object of attacking the naval 
yard at Rosyth. In consequence, however, of an ever-increasing 
strong north-north-west wind, bringing heavy snow and hailstorms 
with it, it was decided on the way to seek out the munition factories 
at Middlesbrough instead of proceeding to Rosyth. The only 
shipping traffic noticeable was limited to a few fishing-boats off 
the Ek^ger Bank. Following the throwing out of benzine casks, 
the airship, towards 10 p.m., was fired at through a thin bank of 
clouds, but without success, and the incident was not worth noticing. 
At 10.45 P'M. the English coast was crossed between Flamborough 
Head and Spurn Head at Hornsea, which led to the belief that 
the north wind was stronger. The ship now steered northwards 
over the distinctly visible snow-clad coast. Wherever the landscape 
was not hidden from view by heavy snow-clouds visibility was 
good. The upper line of cloud was at a height of 2,000-3,000 m. ; 
above, the sky was bright and starry. Violent hailstorms again 
came on, the ship became coated with ice, and although all water 
was discharged and the temperature of the air was 16 degrees, she 
could not rise above 2,000 m. Not until just before the attack, and 
after a further discharge of benzine, did she achieve a somewhat 
risky 2,300 m. The antennae and the ends of the metal props in 
gondola and corridor glistened through the snow and hail with balls 
of light — St. Elmo's fire. The gondola and platform were thickly 
covered with snow. When the weather cleared at i a.m., it appeared 
from the position of the ship that to steer further north would be 
fruitless with the velocity of the wind at 12 doms (doms — 2 metres 
per second). 

"Meanwhile the course of the Humber was now distinguishable 
in the snowy landscape further south, offering a very favourable 
chance of attack. The town of Hull was well darkened, but from 
where ' L 1 1 ' was stationed we could easily make out the dropping 
of bombs from * L 14 '. Fresh snow-clouds then interfered with the 
view, but I had time to spare and remained at my post until the 
clouds cleared away in an hour's time. At 2 a.m. * Lii ' opened 
the attack and first dropped some bombs on Hull to induce the 
defence batteries and searchlights to disclose their position, for if 
that failed the ship could not have attacked against so strong a 
wind. The town remained quiet and dark, but at that moment the 
clouds cleared away and disclosed the following picture. The town 





























Germany's High Sea Fleet 

and environs were white with the freshly-fallen snow. Although 
plunged in darkness the town lay sharply defined under the starlit 
sky with its streets, blocks of houses, quays and harbour basins just 
below the airship. A few lights moved in the streets. The ship, 
taking a northerly course and with all her engines at high pressure, 
was poised over her objective and stood by. For twenty minutes, 
following my instructions, bombs were dropped quite composedly 
on the harbour and docks and the effect of each bomb carefully 
watched. The first bomb hit the quay, knocking a great piece 
out of it; a second hit the middle of the dock-gate of a harbour 
basin. The bomb fell so accurately on the gate that it might have 
been taken for a shot deliberately aimed at it. Buildings fell 
down like so many houses built of cards. One bomb in particular 
had a tremendous effect. Near the spot where it exploded houses 
kept falling on each side until at last a huge black hole stood 
out on the snowy ground near the harbour. A similar large black 
spot in the neighbourhood was apparently caused by * L 14 '. People 
were seen through the telescope running hither and thither in the 
light of the flames. Ships that had been hit began moving about in 
the harbour. All counter-action at and round Hull was limited 
to a few weak searchlights that failed to find the ship, and to some 
isolated firing. While the bombs were being droppedi the airship 
ventured up to 2,700 m. 

"When fully convinced of the excellent effect of the bombs 
dropped on Hull, I decided to drop the remainder on the 
fortifications at Immingham which, as I had already noticed, had 
been heavily bombed by ' L 14 '. The airship made for Immingham 
with the last five explosive bombs and was received at once by four 
strong searchlights and very lively gun-fire. The searchlights tried 
in vain to find the ship through the light clouds just passing over, 
for although it was brightly lit up by them they always moved 
farther away. South of the searchlights on the bank the batteries 
were using much ammunition. From 40 to 50 fiery lights or fire-balls 
were scattered round the ship on all sides, above and below. The 
height these missiles reached was reckoned at 3,000 m. or more. The 
first explosive bomb that fell among the searchlights extinguished 
first one and then all the others. No other results were observed. 
Towards the end of the attack on Hull the fore engine was put 
permanently out of action by the stoppage of the water gauge and 
the consequent freezing of the oil and water pipes at a temperature 
of 19 degrees; at Immingham the aft engine was out of action for 


Enterprises in the Hoofden 

half an hour. I'he coast was crossed at 2.40 a.m. on the return 
journey. Again heavy snow and hailstorms accompanied by 
electric disturbances were encountered. In the space of three 
minutes a sudden squall carried the ship upwards from 2,400 to 
3,200 m., 250 m. above our previous highest altitude. Coming down 
shortly afterwards the elevating gear got out of order, but the ship 
was worked by the crew as well as could be until the damage was 
repaired, though we were forced to rise again to 3,200 m. At 5 a.m. 
the rear engine gave way again and, owing to the freezing of oil 
and water, stopped altogether shortly before we landed. At 7 a.m. we 
met the First Scouting Division of Squadrons I and II 30 nautical 
miles north-north-west of the Terschelling-Bank Lightship. At 
2 p.m. we landed safely at Nordholz. The ship was quite able to 
fly again." 

The airship did the trip in 26 hours; it must be mentioned in 
this connection that the crew of a raider is so limited that all the men 
have to be on duty the whole time. 

The Naval Corps in Flanders supported the Fleet's enterprise 
by stationing 12 U-boats off the English south-east coast. In spite 
of good visibility, there was no encounter with the enemy. The 
expedition, therefore, was only useful for the purpose of practising 
unity of command, and the handling of individual ships under 
circumstances likely to arise during an offensive engagement of any 
big unit. The return voyage was made an occasion for different 
exercises in manoeuvring the Fleet in fighting formation until we 
were compelled to withdraw, alarmed by the sighting of enemy 
submarines, for which the Fleet at Terschelling would have 
presented a good target. After our return all opportunity for further 
operations was put a stop to for a time owing to the bad weather, 
and to high east and north-east winds which our airships only just 
succeeded in escaping. 

The dismissal of Grand Admiral von Tirpitz as Secretary of 
State of the Imperial Admiralty which was announced to the 
Fleet Command on March 18 aroused great sympathy, not only 
in view of his services in connection with the many-sided develop- 
ment of the Fleet through long years and in all branches of maritime 
service, but because, in these critical times for the country, much 
anxiety was aroused at the thought of being deprived of the services 
of a man who had shown himself to be a genial personality and of 
unwavering energy. This change in the conduct of the Naval 


Germany's High Sea Fleet 

Department, in particular, gave rise to grave fears as to the prompt 
carrying out of resolute and adequate U-boat warfare. 

At the beginning of March the decision in this connection^ had 
again been postponed for four weeks. The Fleet was therefore 
bound all the more to aim at active action against the enemy, and 
every attention was given to that purpose by the new Fleet 


Meanwhile the English, by an unexpected attack, provided us 
with the opportunity of testing our preparations. The repeated 
air-raids, and particularly a very big and successful one on London 
on February i, roused them to make an effort to seek out and 
destroy these troublesome raiders in their own homes. The hangars 
at Tondern were the nearest. There had been no further attack on 
this group since the first unsuccessful one on Christmas Day^ 1914- 
On March 25, in very unfavourable weather for flying — so much so 
that our own scouting machines did not go up owing to fog 
and snowstorms — an attack was made at g.30 a.m. by some torpedo- 
boat destroyers on our outpost group at List. They sank two 
fishing steamers that could have reported the attack, but were them- 
selves obliged to withdraw before our aeroplanes which had gone 
up from List, and which dropped bombs on the enemy, hitting 
the destroyer Medusa. She was abandoned later on in a sinking 
condition. The English report gave out that the loss of the Medusa 
was owing to a collision with the destroyer Laverocks 

Various reports were made by our aeroplanes, from which we 
gathered that an aerial attack had started from two vessels carry- 
ing aeroplanes, which were supported by battle-cruisers, light 
cruisers and destroyers. We were not able at once to determine 
what the intention was — ^whether there was to be a simultaneous 
attack from the west on the hangars at Hage (south of Norderney), 
or whether we were to expect an encircling movement of the enemy 
against our forces sent northwards, in an effort to force them to come 
out. The counter-action of our aeroplanes and the bad weather 
compelled all the five English airmen to come down. Two of them 
were picked up by one of their own torpedo-boats; the other three 
were taken by our aeroplanes. They did not succeed in doing any 

The English attack caused great commotion among our out- 
post forces, as well as among all the other ships, which at cmce 
got ready to put to sea, until the further purpose of the enemy was 
revealed. Our cruisers and several flotillas went in pursuit of the 


Enterprises in the Hoofden 

retiring enemy, who evidently did not attach much importance to 
the rescue of the airmen; but the weather becoming still worse, 
we were unable to get near the ships. There was an encounter 
that night between our torpedo-boats and English light cruisers, 
when the English cruiser Cleopatra succeeded in ramming and 
sinking one of our torpedo-boats, ** G 194," which had crossed 
her bows by mistake. 

During these nocturnal proceedings another torpedo-boat, 
"S 22," Ck>mmander Karl Galster, struck a mine 55*^ 45' North 
Lat., and 5' 10' East Long. This boat broke in two at once; the 
fore-part sank quickly, the remainder floated for about five minutes 
and then suddenly went to the bottom. The hurrahs from the 
crew, led by the commander, proved that they stood firm at their 
posts to the very last. Torpedo-boat "S18" immediately tried 
to render assistance, but the wind and the high sea running made 
it impossible, and in spite of every effort only ten petty officers 
and seven of the crew were saved. We learned from the English 
report that the same night the Cleopatra was also run into by the 
English cruiser Undaunted, the latter receiving such heavy damage 
thait she had to be towed into harbour. An English wireless inter- 
cepted during the night stated that a warship, together with 
destroyers, had tried to take a damaged English destroyer in tow, 
and it might be presumed that the ships would proceed northwards 
by night and return again at daybreak when there would be the 
possibility of encountering and capturing certain units of the enemy. 
Squadron II and Scouting Divisions I and IV were ordered 
to proceed to 55" 10' N. Lat. and 6' o' E. Long., whither Squadrons 
I and II would follow; the flagship was with Squadron III. At 
6.30 A.M. the cruisers reported that the sea was so rough that 
an engagement was impossible; the push was therefore given up 
as hopeless. We heard later that the same reason had induced 
the English to abandon the destroyer Medusa and return home 
very much battered by the storm. 

At the end of March, by way of reprisal for the attempt to 
injure our aerial fleet, our airships enjoyed a very successful series 
of expeditions which, aided by a combination of favourable weather 
and dark nights, resulted in five successive attacks. It is difficult 
for airships to bring back an exact statement of their successes 
owing to the great altitude at which they fly, and also to the 
darkness and their exposure to anti-aircraft defences. The reports 
issued by the English official censor were, therefore, the only means 


Germany's High Sea Fleet 

of ascertaining the extent of the damage done, which was often 
represented as being of little importance in order to calm the fears 
of the population. But it is certain that at the time the uninter- 
ruptedly recurring raids caused a great feeling of panic, as the 
destruction in London itself surpassed anything ever before known. 
On our side, for the first time, we had to deplore the loss of an airship, 
brought down by enemy anti-aircraft guns. "L15," Commander 
Breithaupt, was forced down on to the water at the mouth of the 
Thames after the airship's gondola had been repeatedly hit by 
shells. The crew, two oflScers and sixteen men, were rescued 
by English boats and taken prisoner; they did not, however, 
succeed in towing in the airship, the destruction of which had been 
provided for. It is worthy of note that in the night of the 2nd-3rd 
the Firth of Forth was reached for the first time, and ships lying 
there and buildings along the Firth were attacked. Bad weather 
set in again on April 6 and put an end to this exceptionally suc- 
cessful period. "Lii" took part more than once in the attacks 
%nd its commander has given the following description : 

"Order : * L n,' together with * L 14,' to attack England south 
or centre on morning of April ist.' At 12 noon an ascent was 
made for the purpose of attacking England in the south, but 
owing to the wind soon veering round to north-west, the centre of the 
coast was made for. There was lively traffic among steam-trawlers 
off the Dogger Bank, and the English wireless was distinctly 
heard at work. In spite of throwing out two casks of benzine, 
the temperature of the air did not allow of the ship rising above 
2,200 m.; at 10 p.m. the English coast was reached south of the 
Tyne. While trying to bomb the docks on the Tyne and cross 
the coast, the ship was greeted with violent firing, which came from 
the whole coastal area north and south of the river. To draw 
back and seek the required weather side for the attack would have 
occupied several hours with the prevailing wind (W.N.W., 5-7 
doms.) I decided not to cross the batteries on account of not 
being very high in relation to the firing, and also because of slow 
progress against the wind and the absolutely clear atmosphere 
up above. I fixed, therefore, on the town of Sunderland, with its 
extensive docks and the blast furnaces north-west of the town. 
Keeping on the weather side, the airships dropped explosive bombs 
on some works where one blast-furnace was blown up with a terrible 
detonation, sending out flames and smoke. The factories and dock 


Enterprises in the Hoofden 

buildings of Sunderland, now brightly illuminated, were then 
bombed with good results. The effect was grand ; blocks of houses 
and rows of streets collapsed entirely; large fires broke out in 
places and a dense black cloud, from which bright sparks flew high, 
was catised by one bomb. A second explosive bomb was at once 
dropped at the same spot; judging from the situation, it may have 
been a railway station. While over Sunderland, the airship was 
caught by a powerful searchlight and was pelted with shrapnel and 
fire-balls, but to no purpose. The concussion from a shell burst- 
ing near the airship was felt as though she had been hit. After 
leaving the town, two other searchlights tried to get the ship, but 
only with partial success. Then followed slight firing, apparently 
with machine-guns. The last explosive bombs were dropped with good 
aim on two blast-furnace works in the neighbourhood of Middles- 
brough. On returning, we again saw numbers of steam trawlers off 
the Dogger Bank. At lo A.M., April 2nd, we landed at Nordholz." 

The day following "L ii *' again set out for a raid on England 
in company with "L17," and reported as follows: 

"Owing to the expected warm temperature of the air, only five 
mechanics and forty-five bombs were carried; the spare parts were 
limited; two machine-guns and a landing-rope were left behind, 
and the supply of benzine very sparingly measured out, as both 
going and coming back the wind was expected to be behind us. 
The ascent was made at 2.30 p.m. The flight was so rapid that 
the last bearings* taken showed that the English coast would be 
reached near Sheringham at about 10.30 p.m. As the atmosphere 
was bec<Mning still thicker, it was impossible to distinguish any- 
thing beyond a few dim lights. As the coast could not be made 
out at the expected time, I turned by degrees out of my previous 
course W. J4 S. to S.W. to S., presuming that the wind would 
have gone further south on land. Finally, however, the bearings 
taken at a.m. revealed the surprising fact that the slight 
W.S.W. wind blowing had risen to 8-10 doms. When, there- 
fore, we found at 2.45 a.m. that the ship was over the land, a further 
advance towards London became purposeless. Moreover, on ascer- 
taining the exact position, it was too late, and in view of the 

* To ascertain its position wireless signals are sent ont from the airship, picked 
up at two difierent stations, and registered on the map. The position fixed is then 
transmitted to the airship by wireless. The whole proceeding occupies the shortest 
space of time, but when several airships are on an expedition together the wireless 
must be worked most carefully to avoid mutual misunderstandings and mistakes. 


Germany's High Sea Fleet 

strength and direction of the wind, to turn off towards the mouth 
of the Humber. So long as the darkness lasted, I determined to 
try for some objective in the county of Norfolk. Norwich, which 
was in complete darkness, could not be made out. 

"Towards 3.55 a.m., after *L 11 ' had crossed the coast close to 
the west of Yarmouth, violent gun-fire was observed through the 
mist in the rear. A turn was made, and altogether thirteen well- 
aimed bombs were dropped on the place where the firing came 
from. We had to give up the idea of staying longer on the coast 
as at the altitude of the airship day was already beginning to break. 
The return journey, as was anticipated, was favoured at a high 
altitude by a fresh W.S.W. wind. At 10 a.m. we landed at 

On April 5, "L 11 '* with "L 13" and "16" again went up for 
a raid on the English Midlands. An account of this expedition will 
serve to give the reader some idea of the strain and exertions to 
which our airships' crews were exposed on such occasions. 

"At 9.45 p.m. the airship crossed the distinctly visible coast 
south of Flamborough Head and took a course for Sheffield. When 
over Hull to the north the airship was found to be over several newly- 
erected batteries with four very strong searchlights, which caught 
up the ship easily in the very clear air; whereupon, from 10.10 to 
10.30 an unusually heavy firing with shells and shrapnel was kept 
up. The aim was good; many shells burst quite close to the air- 
ship, causing the frame to shake violently. The next battery was 
at once attacked and silenced by explosive bombs. Being at the 
low altitude of 2,300 metres and in such clear air it was not 
considered advisable to continue to pass over the numerous 
other batteries, so we turned round intending to take a southerly 
course outside the coast in order to rise higher when the moon had 
gone down and to proceed inland. In setting off, the rear engine 
was put out of order through worn-out crank bearings. The com- 
mander decided, therefore, to put himself on the lee side of the 
north-north-east wind and look for Hartlepool. The line of the 
coast and the course of the rivers were just as plainly visible as 
on the map. North and south of Flamborough Head there was 
much shipping activity. Several neutral vessels were distinguishable 
by the bright lights above their neutrality marking. 

"At 2 A.M., just off Hartlepool, the fore engine gave out. The 
attack on the town was abandoned, and it was decided on the 
way back to destroy a large iron factory at Whitby. Even from 


Bombardment of Yarmouth and Lowestoft 

the high altitude of the airship, the factory appeared to be a very 
extensive establishment with many brightly illuminated blast fur- 
naces and numerous buildings. It was situated on the shore and 
had steam extinguishing apparatus. The airship hovered suflB- 
ciently long over this factory to drop carefully aimed bombs. 
The distinctly visible result consisted not only in the utter de- 
struction of the furnaces and buildings through fire and explosion, 
but there were also heavy explosions in the darker sections of the 
factory, which led to the conclusion that the entire establishment 
had been destroyed. At 10.30 a.m. the airship got into a dense fog 
on the return journey, and with a view to safer navigation went 
over land and made good her way at 50 m. altitude, landing at 
Nordholz at 3 p.m. in clear weather." 

No ships were sent up by Captain Strasser, the Commander of 
Airships, on April 6. His estimate of the weather conditions proved 
quite correct, for in the course of the afternoon the slight north- 
easterly wind veered round to the east and when night came a 
regular storm was blowing. While the air raids of the previous 
night were proceeding several torpedo-boats started out from 
Horns Reef in a north-west and westerly direction and kept the out- 
post forces in constant activity. It led, however, to no engagement 
with the enemy. 

From April 13 to April 19 the Fleet was kept in constant ex- 
pectation of an English attack, news having been received that 
one was pending. But the enemy did not show himself. 

Bombardment of Yarmoitth and Lowestoft 

On April 24, Easter Monday, the Fleet put out on an im- 
portant enterprise which, like that in the beginning of March, was 
directed towards the Hoofden, but was to be extended farther so as 
to force the enemy out ol port. I expected to achieve this by bom- 
barding coastal towns and carrying out air raids on England the 
night the Fleet went out. Both these actions would probably result 
in counter measures being taken by the enemy that would give our 
forces an opportunity to attack. On the occasion of the advance 
of March 5—6 the enemy preferred withdrawing all his forces into 
port, as we learnt afterwards from intercepted wireless messages, 
as soon as he had news of our advance, either through agents or 
from submarines in the North Sea. 


Germany's High Sea Fleet 

The news we obtained from the enemy had repeatedly announced 
strong enemy forces in the northern section of the North Sea under 
the Norwegian coast; forces had also been sighted in the Hoofden 
and harbours on the south-east coast of England so that an oppor- 
tunity would probably occur for our Fleet to push in between 
those two divisions of the enemy Fleet and attack with equal strength 
that section which should first present itself. It was, therefore, 
obvious that the most suitable direction for attack would be towards 
the south-east counties of England. If the enemy then wished to cut 
oflF our return he would have to move into the neighbourhood of Ter- 
scheliing Bank, where the waters were favourable for offering battle. 
With luck we might even succeed in attacking the enemy advancing 
from the Hoofden on both sides; on the south with the forces told 
off to bombard the coast and on the north with the Main Fleet. 

Lowestoft and Yarmouth were the only coastal towns it was in- 
tended to bombard. Both were fortified and were important military 
points of support for the enemy — ^Lowestcrft for mine-laying and 
sweeping; Yarmouth as a base for the submarines whence they 
started on their expeditions to the Bight. The destruction, 
therefore, of the harbours and other military establishments of both 
these coastal towns was a matter of great military importance, apart 
from the object of the bombardment in calling out the enemy. Simul- 
taneous air-raids on southern England would c^er the advantages 
of mutual support for the airships and the sea forces. The airships 
would reconnoitre for the forces afloat on their way to and fro, 
while the latter would be able to rescue the airships should they 
meet disaster. It was also hoped there might be an opportunity 
for trade-war under prize conditions. 

All the available High Sea forces were assembled, including 
Squadron II, and the Chief Command of the Naval Corps in 
Flanders was enjoined to keep his available U-boats in readiness. 
The Naval Corps also offered to station two U-boats east of Lowes- 
toft to facilitate the advance ; they did excellent service in assisting 
the bombardment. The U-boats at the disposal of the High Sea 
Command were placed in a position to attack the Firth of Forth 
and the southern egress from the Firth was closed by a U-minelayer. 

Eight of the newer airships were selected for the raid and three 
older ones were ordered to hold themselves in readiness on the second 
day in the rear of the fleet for reconnoitring. If at all possible, the 
bombardment was to take the towns by surprise at daybreak, in order 
to prevent counter-measures by the enemy, such as calling up sub- 

















Germany's High Sea Fleet 

marines from Yarmouth to protect the coast. The forces intended 
to accompany the cruisers had to endeavour to keep, not actually in 
the Hoofden, but in the open waters west and north of Terschelling 
Bank in case it should come to a fight, as that was the only position 
where liberty of action in all eventual developments could be 
ensured. The bombardment of both the coastal towns was entrusted 
to the battle-cruisers. They were supported by Scouting Division 
II and two fast torpedo-boat flotillas (VI and IX). The Main 
Fleet, consisting of Squadrons I, II and III, Scouting Division 
IV, and the remainder of the torpedo flotillas was to accompany 
the battle-cruisers to the Hoofden until the bombardment was over, 
in order, if necessary, to protect them against superior enemy 

At noon on the 24th all the forces, including the airships, started. 
The course led first through the south opening in the barrier at 
Norderney and then north, round a minefield laid down by the 
English out of sight of the Dutch coast, and into the Hoofden where 
the bombardment was to open at daybreak and last for about thirty 
minutes. At 4 p.m. the movement received an unwelcome set-back 
owing to a message from Rear-Admiral Bodicker, leader of the 
reconnaissance ships, that his flagship, the battle-cruiser Seydlitz 
had struck a mine and her forward torpedo compartment was 
damaged. The ship was thus debarred from taking part in the 
expedition; she was still able to do 15 knots and returned 
to harbour under her own steam. The leader was, therefore, 
obliged to hoist his flag in another cruiser. The route on which the 
ship had struck the mine had been searched and swept last on the 
night of the 22nd and 23rd and had been constantly used by light 
forces on their night patrols. 

Owing to this occurrence the battle-cruisers behind the Seydlitz 
stopped and turned according to agreement, awaiting further orders 
in case they, too, should come across mines. As the Seydlitz turned 
to follow them in order to transfer the admiral to lihe Liitzow, two 
of the ships simultaneously reported the track of a torpedo and 
submarines. With that danger so near it would not have been 
advisable to attempt to stop the ship and transfer the admiral to 
another; and as the cruiser was already badly damaged, it would 
have been dangerous to expose her to still further injury. The 
Seydlitz continued, therefore, on her westerly course and the Chief 
of Reconnaissance on board a torj)edo-boat reached the LUtzow later 
and there resumed his duties. The Seydlitz was escorted on her 


Bombardment of Yarmouth and Lowestoft 

homeward way by two torpedo-boats and "L7" and reached the 
harbour without further misadventure. 

In consequence of this incident, the Fleet Command thought 
fit to alter the intended course, and the only alternative was to 
take the route along the coast of East Friesland. The weather being 
so very clear, it would have to be borne in mind that in following 
that route the ships could be observed from the islands of Rottum 
and Schiermonnikoog and the news probably dispatched farther. 
Unfortunately this lessened the chance of carrying out a surprise 
bombardment of Lowestoft and Yarmouth, but there was no reason 
on that account to give it up altogether. Relying on aerial re- 
connaissance, further developments might be expected and the 
enterprise was continued. 

Towards 8 p.m. a wireless message from the Naval Staff con- 
firmed what the Naval Corps in Flanders had already reported at 
noon, that since 6 a.m. numerous enemy forces had been assembled 
off the Belgian coast, at the mouth of the Scheldt ; it was not possible 
to divine their intention, but very probably it was connected with a 
bombardment of the coast of Flanders. It was welcome news for our 
Fleet to hear of the assemblage of enemy forces there. Another 
wireless announced that on the morning of the 23rd large squadrons 
of English warships of all types had been sighted off Lindesnaes, 
the south-west point of Norway. I could count, therefore, on my 
presumption that the English Fleet was divided into two sections 
being correct. 

At 9.30 P.M. a message was sent us from Bruges that according 
to an intercepted English wireless all patrol boats had been ordered 
back to port. This showed that the meeting of our battle-cruisers 
with English submarines during the afternoon had resulted in their 
sending news of our movements. 

Shortly before daybreak reports were received from the airships 
of the results of their attack. They were obliged to fight against 
unfavourable wind conditions, and bad visibility over the land; 
they also met with strong counter-action. The six air-ships taking 
part had raided Norwich, Lincoln, Harwich and Ipswich and had 
been engaged with outpost ships. None had been damaged and 
they were then in the act of returning home. At 5 a.m. our large 
cruisers approached the coast off Lowestoft. Good support was 
afforded them by the U-boats placed in position by the Naval Corps. 
The light cruiser Rostock, which formed the flank cover for the 
battle-cruisers, reported enemy ships and destroyers in a west- 

Germany's High Sea Fleet 

south-west direction. But as the light was not good enough to open 
fire, Admiral Bodicker proceeded to bombard the towns. This was 
carried out at a distance of from loo — 130 hm. Excellent results 
were observed in the harbour and the answering fire was weak. A 
north-west course was then taken to proceed with the bombardment 
of Great Yarmouth and to engage the ships reported by the Rostock. 

Meanwhile the Rostock, supported by the light cruiser Elbing, 
had kept in touch with the enemy forces in the endeavour to bring 
them nearer lo the battle-cruisers. The ships in question were four 
modern light cruisers and about twelve destroyers. As soon, how- 
ever, as they caught sight of our battle-cruisers they turned at full 
speed southwards. We opened fire on them at a distance of 130 hm. 
until they were beyond our range. Many hits were observed, and 
on one of the cruisers a big fire was plainly visible. The high 
speed kept up by the enemy made pursuit useless. The cruisers then 
shaped their course in the direction of our Main Fleet and reported 
that their task was accomplished. 

During the bombardment of the two coastal towns, the light 
cruiser Frankfurt sank an armed patrol steamer by gunfire. A 
second one was sunk by the leader of Torpedo-boat Flotilla VI, 
"G41," the crew of which were rescued. From what the latter 
stated she was the King Stephen, of evil repute, which had 
allowed the crew of the airship **Li9" to perish. These men 
certainly denied most emphatically that they were on the trawler 
then, and laid the blame on a former crew. They contradicted them- 
selves so constantly, however, that the captain and the engineer 
grew very suspicious, and as the steamer had been used for war 
service the crew were made prisoners. 

At 5.30 A.M. "L9" reported being chased by aeroplanes in a 
south-westerly direction. When the fleet was sighted the airmen 
departed, probably to announce the approach of our ships, which 
at that time were steaming on a south-westerly course to meet the 
cruisers. At the same moment "L 11 '* and "L23'* came in sight; 
they had not been able to discover the enemy. At 6 a.m., therefore, 
when the cruisers had reported the conclusion of the bombardment, 
Terschelling Bank was made fbr according to plan. Towards 
7.30 A.M. the Naval Corps in Flanders reported that the English 
ships assembled there had been ordered by wireless, which was 
intercepted, to return. The English destroyers were to finish coaling 
and then move on to Dunkirk. 

An approach, therefore, on the part of the enemy was not to be 


Bombardment of Yarmouth and Lowestoft 

kx>ked for from that quarter. The only hope now left was that 
enemy forces might be encountered off Terschelling. As we drew 
near to that zone, the Fleet was constantly obliged to evade sub- 
marine attacks, but no other enemy forces were met. 

The return trip passed without further incident. Two neutral 
steamers, as well as some smaller vessels were stepped and searched 
for contraband goods. The enemy, hearing of the advance of our 
forces, withdrew all his ships from the Belgian coast and made no 
effort to locate us. It appears from subsequent English statements 
that the English Fleet had put to sea the day before for one of the 
usual North Sea expeditions, and it would be interesting to find out 
whether it could have had an opportunity of crossing our path in 
the Bight. 

When the SeydlUz was docked a hole of go sq. m. was found 
in her, through which about 1,400 tons of water had poured into 
the ship. Eleven of the men had been killed at their post in the 
torpedo chamber. In spite of the OHisiderable quantity of ammunition 
stored there, no further explosion occurred or the disaster would 
have been far greater. 

Early in May the weather conditions were such as to allow of 
a resumption of the air raids on England. But this favourable 
phase in the weather was not of so long duration as in the preceding 
month, which was quite exceptional. Two raids were carried out 
in which eight airships took part. "L 20 '* was lost in the second raid 
as a strong south-westerly wind had arisen, and the airship, owing 
to engine trouble, was unable to reach the home coast. The captain. 
Commander Stabbert, made, therefore, for the Norwegian coast, 
where he came down with his damaged airship in the neighbour- 
hood of Jaderen, where the crew alighted and were interned. Then 
ensued a period of short nights which caused a cessation in the 
airships' raiding activities as the hours of darkness were not enough 
to afford them sufiScient protection, and it was also obvious that 
latterly the defensive measures had become much more effectual. 
But the Fleet made good use of the airships for all reconnoitring 
purposes in connection with important enterprises, which gained in 
value through coK>peration with the U-boats and on which all the 
more energy had to be expended since the trade-war by the U-boats 
had been stopped since the end of April. 

Just as we were proceeding to Lowestoft a wireless message was 
received from the Chief of the Naval Staff, to the effect that trade- 
war by U-boats was only to be carried out now in accordance 

J "9 

Germany's High Sea Fleet 

with prize regulations. This was the result of the American protest 
in the case of the St^sex disaster. As I could not expect the U-boats 
to carry on a war of that description owing to the heavy casualties 
that might be expected, I had called back by wireless all the boats 
engaged in the trade-war , and subsequently received approval of 
this action in high quarters. It was left to me until further notice 
to employ the U-boats in purely military enterprises. This helped 
still further to protect the German Bight, as definite areas could now 
be continuously occupied and we could expect early reports of 
enemy movements ; we also hoped to find opportunities to attack the 
enemy submarines employed as guard-ships. The experiences of 
our U-boats confirmed the danger caused by the enemy submarines, 
which, appearing unexpectedly, had come to be very unpleasant 
adversaries, and we intended, therefore, to make use of our boats 
for defence purposes. 


PART 11 

From the Battle of the Skagerrak to the 
Unrestricted U-boat Warfare 



THE bombardment of April 25 had not failed to make an impres- 
sion in England. The expectation that the fleet was bound to 
succeed in warding off all German attacks on British shores 
had repeatedly been disappointed. On each occasion the English 
main fleet had arrived too late — in December, 1914; in January, 
1915; and now again this year — so that, to the great annoyance 
of the English, the German ** raiders" got away each time un- 
punished. Wherefore Mr. Balfour, the First Lord of the Admiralty, 
fek called upon to announce publicly that should the German ships 
again venture to show themselves off the British coast, measures had 
been taken to ensure their being severely punished. However, we 
were ready to take our chance. 

The question was whether it would be advisable to include 
Squadron II in an advance which in all probability would involve 
us in a serious battle. Early in May I ordered the squadron tem- 
porarily into the Jade Basin that I might have an opportunity 
of discussing with the Squadron Commander the action to be 
observed in battle under the most varied conditions. Military 
reasons entered into the question as to whether the squadron should 
be taken out or left behind, as well as consideration for the honour 
and feeling of the crews, who would not hear of being reduced, 
themselves and their ships, to the second class. For battleships 
to have their activity limited absolutely to guarding the German 
Bight without any prospect of getting into touch with the enemy — 
to which they had been looking forward for a year and a half — ^would 
have caused bitter disappointment; on the other hand, however, 
was the responsibility of sending the. ships into an unequal fight 
where the enemy would make use of his very best material. I 
cannot deny that in addition to the eloquent intercession of Rear- 
Admiral Mauve, the Squadron Cdmmander, my own former con- 
nection with Squadron II also induced me not to disappoint it 
by leaving it behind. And thus it happened that the squadron 
played its part on May 31, and in so helpful a manner that I never 
had cause to regret my decision. 


Germany's High Sea Fleet 

The repairs on the Seydlitg, damaged on April 24, were not 
completed until the end of May, as the reconstructicm of the mine- 
shattered torpedo tubes necessitated very heavy work. I had no 
intention, however, of doing without that battle-cruiser, although 
Vice^Admiral Hipper, Chief of the Reconnaissance Forces^ had 
meanwhile hoisted his flag in the newly repaired battle-cruiser 
Liitzow (Captain Harder, formerly on the Stralsund). The vessels 
belonging to Squadron HI were also having their condensers 
repaired, as on their last trip there had been seven cases of damaged 
machinery in that squadron. The advantage of having three 
engines, as had each of these ships, was proved by the fact that 
two engines alone were able to keep up steam almost at full speed ; 
at the same time, very faulty construction in the position of the 
engines was apparent, which unfortunately could not be rectified 
owing to limited space. Thus it happened that when a condenser 
went wrong it was impossible to conduct the steam from the engine 
with which it was connected to one of the other two condensers, 
and thus keep the engine itself working. It was an uncomfort- 
able feeling to know that this weakness existed in the strongest 
unit at the disposal of the Fleet, and how easily a bad accident might 
result in leakages in two different condensers and thus incapacitate 
one vessel in the group I 

The object of the next undertaking was a bombardment of the 
fortifications and works of the harbour at Sunderland which, 
situated about the middle of the East coast of England, would 
be certain to call out a display of English fighting forces as pro- 
mised by Mr. Balfour. The order issued on May 18 in this 
connection was as follows: 

"The bombardment of Sunderland by our cruisers is intended 
to compel the enemy to send out forces against us. For 
the attack on the advancing enemy the High Sea Fleet forces to 
be south of the Dogger Bank, and the U-boats to be stationed for 
attack off the East coast of England. The enemy's ports of sortie 
will be closed by mines. The Naval Corps will support the under- 
taking with their U-boats. If time and circumstances permit, trade- 
war will be carried on during proceedings." 

The squadrons of men-of-war had made over the command 
of prizes to the torpedo-boat flotillas, as torpedo-boats are the best 
adapted for the examination of vessels, but have not a crew large 
enough to enable them to bring the captured vessels into our ports. 
The First and Second Scouting Divisions were placed at the 


The Battle of the Skagerrak 

disposal of the Chief of Reconnaissance^ and the Second Leader of 
the torpedo-boats with Flotillas 11, VI, and IX. Scouting 
Division IV* and the remainder of the flotillas were with .the 
Main Fleet. Sixteen of our U-boats were told off for ithe positions 
of attack, with six to eight of the Flanders boats. On May 15 
they started to reconnoitre in the North Sea, and fTom May 23 to 
June I inclusive were to remain at the posts assigned to them, 
observe the movements of the English forces, and gain any in- 
formation that might be of use to the Fleet in their advance; at 
the same time they were also to seize every opportunity to attack. 
Provision was also made for the largest possible number of our 
airships to assist the enterprise by reconnaissance from the air. 
The fact that the U-boats could only remain out for a certain period 
put a limit to the execution of the plan. If reconnaissance from 
the air proved impossible, it was arranged to make use of the U-boats, 
and so dispense with aerial reconnaissance. 

As the weather each day continued to be unfavourable and the 
airship commander could only report that it was impossible to 
send up any airships, the plan was so far changed, though with- 
out altering other preparations, /that it was decided to embark on 
a campaign against cruisers and merchantmen outside and in the 
Skagerrak, with the expectation that the news of the appearance 
of our cruisers in those waters would be made known to the enemy. 
With this object in view, they had been told to keep in sight of 
the coast of Norway, so that the enemy might be notified. In 
further describing the course of this undertaking, which led to the 
Battle of the Skagerrak, I shall keep strictly to the official report 
I sent in. 

In judging the proceedings it must be borne in mind that at 
sea a leader adapts his action to the events taking place around 
him. It may possibly reveal errors which can only be accounted 
for later by reports from his own ships or valuable information from 
enemy statements. The art of leadership consists in securing an 
approximately correct picture from the impression of the moment, 
and then acting in accordance with it. The writer of history can 
then form a tactical inference where obvious mistakes were made, or 
where a better grasp of the situation would have led to a more 
advantageous decision. In this event a certain reticence should be 

* Hm Thitd Soovtioff Diviaicn, which ooataiaed the okiest axmouTed cruisers, 
Prtng Adalbert, Prinu Heinrich, and Roon, had kmg since bem handed Kxwet to the 
command«r of tiie Baltic forces, as, owing to their lack of speed and inferior armour, 
plating, the vessels were not suitable for use in the North Sea. 

Germany's High Sea Fleet 

observed in making definite assertions that a different movement 
would have been more successful, for armed efficiency plays the 
chief part in success and cannot be determined with mathematical 
precision. I have in mind one hit that did so much damage 
to our battle-cruiser Seydlxiz on January 24, 1915, that one almost 
came to the conclusion that such ships* could not stand many shots 
of such heavy calibre, and yet the following battle proved the 
contrary. At all events, a good hit can seal the fate of a ship, even 
one of the strongest. A naval battle may be open to criticism as 
to why it happened thus, but anyone who asserted that it might 
have happened otherwise would be in danger of losing his case. 

The Advance 

On May 30, as the possibility of a long-distance aerial recon- 
naissance was still considered uncertain, I decided on an advance 
in the direction of the Skagerrak, as the vicinity of the Jutland 
coast offered a certain cover against surprise. An extensive aerial 
reconnaissance was an imperative necessity for an advance on 
Sunderland in the north-west, as it would lead into waters where 
we could not allow ourselves to be forced into giving battle. As, 
however, on the course now to be adopted, the distance frcmi the 
enemy points of support was considerably greater, aerial recon- 
naissance was^ desirable, though not absolutely necessary. As 
already stated, our U-boats were in position, some of them in fact 
facing Scapa Flow, one boat off Moray Firth, a large number 
off the Firth of Forth, several off the Humber and the remainder, 
north of the Terschelling Bank, in order to be able to operate 
against enemy forces that might chance to come from a south- 
westerly direction. The combination of our total forces taking 
part was as follows : 

A list of warships which on May 30 to June i, 19 16, took part 
in the Battle of the Skagerrak and the operations connected there- 
with :' 

Chief of the Fleet: Vice-Admiral Scheer in Friedrich der Grosse. 
Chief of Staff: Captain von Trotha (Adolf). 
Chief of the Operating Section: Captain von Levetzow. 
'Admiralty Staff Officer: Captain Quaet-Faslem (Hans). 
Commander of " Friedrich der Grosse " : Captain Fuchs (Theodor). 


The Battle of the Skagerrak 


Squadron I 

CfeiV/ 0/ Squadron: Vice- Admiral Ehrhard Schmidt, Ostfrieslg^ 
'Admiralty Staff Officer: Captain Wegener (Wolfgangp 
Admiral: Rear-Admiral Engelhardt, Posen. 

Ostfriesland : Captain von Natzmer. 

Thiiringen: Captain Kilsel (Hans). 

Helgoland: Captain von Kameke. 

Oldenberg: Captain Hoplner, 
t/^ Posen: Captain Lange. 
^ Rheinland: Captain Rohardt. 

Nassau: Captain Klappenbach (Hans). 

Westfalen: Captain Redlich. 

Squadron II 

Chief of Squadron : Rear- Admiral Mauve, Deutschland. 
Admiralty Staff Officer: Captain Kahlert. 

Admiral: Rear-Admiral Baron von Dalwigk zu LichtenfelSi 

Deutschland: Captain Meurer (Hugo). 
Pommern: Captain Bolken. 
^ Schlesien: Captain Behncke (Fr.). 
i Schleswig'Holstein: Captain Barrentrapp. 
Hannover: Captain Heine (Wilh.). 
Hessen: Captain Bartels (Rudolf). 

Squadron III 

Chief of Squadron: Rear- Admiral Behncke, Konig. 
Admiralty Staff Officer: Captain Baron von Gagern. 
Admiral: Rear-Admiral Nordmann, Kaiser. 

" Konig: Captain Briininghaus. 
' Grosser Kurfurst: Captain Goette (Ernst). 
^ - Markgraf: Captain Seiferling. 

*Kronprinz: Captain Peldt (Constanz). 
' Kaiser: Captain Baron von Kayserling. 

Pring Regent Luitpold: Captain Heuser (Karl). 

Kaiserin: Captain Sievers. 


Germany^s High Sea Fleet 

Chief of the Reconnaissance Forces: Vice-Admlral Hipper, LuImow. 
Admiralty Staff Officer: Captain Raeder (Erick). 

Scouting Division I 

' Seydlitz: Captain von Egidy (Moritz). 
"' MoUke: Captain von Karps. 
- Derfflinger: Captain Hartog. 

Lutzow: Captain Harder. 

Von der Tann: Captain Zenker. 

Leader of Scouting Division II : Rear-Admiral Bodicker, Frankfurt. 
Admiralty Staff Officer: Commander Stapenhorst. 

Scouting Division II 

Pillau: Captain Mommsen. 
Elbing: Captain Madlung. 
FrankfuH: Captain von Trotha (Thilo). 
Wiesbaden: Captain Reiss. 
Rostock: Captain Feldmann (Otto). 
Regensburg: Captain Neuberer. 

Leader of Scouting Division IV: Commodore von Renter, Stettin. 
Admiralty Staff Officer: Captain Weber (Heinrich). 

Scouting Division IV 

Stettin: Captain Rebensburg (Priedrich). 
MUnchen: Captain Bocker (Oskar). 
Frauenlob: Captain Hoffmann (Georg). 
Stuttgart: Captain Hagedom. 
Hamburg: Captain von Gaudecker. 

ToRPEDo-BoAT Flotillas 

First Leader of the Torpedo-Boat Forces: Commodore Michelsen, 

^Admiralty Staff Officer: Captain Junkermann. 
Second Leader of the Torpedo-Boat Forces: Commodore Heinrich, 

Chief of Flotilla I : Commander Conrad Albrecht, " G 39." 
Chief of 1st Half 'Flotilla: Commander Conrad Albrecht, "G 39." 
Chief of Flotilla II: Captain Schuur, "B 98." 


The Battle of the Skagerrak 

Chief of 3rd Half -Flotilla: Captain Boest, "G loi." 

Chief of 4th Half -^Flotilla: Captain Dittamar (Adolf), "B 109." 

Chief of Flotilla J/7; Captain Hollmann, "S 53." 

Chief of 5th Half 'Flotilla: Commander Gautier, "V71." 

Chief of 6th Half -Flotilla: Commander Karlowd, "S 54." 

Chief of Flotilla V: Captain Heinecke, "G ii-" 

Chief of gth Half -Flotilla: Commander Hoefer, '•V2." 

Chief of loefe Half-Flotilla: Commander Klein (Friedrich), *'G8-" 

Chief of Flotilla VI: Captain Max Schultz, "G4i-" 

Chief of nth Half -Flotilla: Commander Rumann, "V 44." 

Chief of 12th Half-Flotilla: Commander Laks, "V69." 

Chief of Flotilla VU: Captain von Koch, "S 24." 

Chief of 13th Half-Flotilla: Commander vchi Zitzewitz (Gerhard), 

"S 15." 
Chief of i^th Half-Flotilla: Captain Cordes (Hermann), "S 19." 
Chief of Flotilla IX: Captain Goehle, "V 28." 
Chief of lyth Half -Flotilla : Commander Ehrhardt, "V27." 
Chief of mh Half -Flotilla: Captain Tillessen (Werner), "V30." 


Leader of the Submarines: Captain Bauer, Hamburg. 
Admiralty Staff Officer: Captain Liitzow (Friedrich). 

" U 24 " — Commander : Lieut. Schneider (Rudolf). 

"U32" — Commander: Lieut. Baron Spiegel von und zu Peckcl- 

" U 63 " — Commander : Lieut. Schultze (Otto). 
"U66V — Commander: Lieut, von Bothmer. 
" U 70 " — Commander : Lieut. Wiinsche. 
"U43" — Commander: Lieut. Jiirst. 
"U44" — Commander: Lieut. Wagenfiihr. 
"U52" — Commander: Lieut. Walther (Hans). 
"U47" — Commander: Lieut. Metzger. 
" U 45 " — ^Commander : Lieut. Hillebrand (Leo). 
" U 22 " — Commander : Lieut. Hoppe. 
" U 19 " — Commander : Lieut. Weizbach (Raimund). 
" U B 22 *' — Commander : Lieut. Putzier. 

U B 21 " — Commander : Lieut. Hashagen. 

U 53 " — Commander : Lieut. Rose. 
" U 64 " — Commander : Lieut. Morath (Robert). 


Germany's High Sea Fleet 

'*L IX " — 0>mmander 
*% 17 " — Commander 
" L 14 " — Commander 
"L 21 ** — Commander 
"L 23 " — Commander 
"L 16" — Commander 
" L 13 " — Commander 
"L9" — Commander 
" L 22 " — Commander 
" L 24 " — Commander 


Captain Schiitze (Viktor). 
Lieut. Ehrlich (Herbert). 
Lieut. Bocker. 
Lieut. Dietrich (Max). 
Lieut, von Schubert. 
Lieut. Sommerfeldt. 
Lieut. Prolt. 
Captain Stelling. 
Lieut. Dietrich (Martin). 
Lieut. Koch (Robert). 

Vice- Admiral Hipper, Chief of the Reconnaissance Forces was 
ordered to leave the Jade Basin with his forces at 4 a.m., May 31, 
to advance towards the Skagerrak out of sight of H<miis Reef, and 
the Danish coast, to show himself off the Norwegian coast before 
dark, to cruise in the Skagerrak during the night, and at noon the 
next day to join up with the Main Fleet. The ships under his 
command comprised the Scouting Division I and IL To the 
latter was attached the light cruiser Regetisburg, flagship of 
the Second Leader of the torpedo-boats; under his command were 
the Flotillas H, VI, and IX. The Main Fleet, consisting of 
Squadrons I, II, and III, of Scouting Division IV, the First 
Leader of torpedo-boats, in the Rostock, and Torpedo-Boat Flotillas 
I, II, V, and VII, were to follow at 4.30 a.m. to cover the 
reconnaissance forces during the enterprise and take action on 
June I. The sailing order of the battleships was as follows: 
Squadron III in van, Squadron I following, and Squadron II in' 
the rear. 

The Konig Albert was absent from Squadron III, having been 
incapacitated a few days previously through condenser trouble. 
Notwithstanding the loss of this important unit, I could not bring 
myself further to postpone the enterprise, and preferred to do with- 
out the ship. Squadron II was without the Preussen, which had 
been placed at the disposal of the Commander-in-Chief of the Baltic 
forces to act as guard-ship at the south egress from the Sound. 
Lothringen was deemed unfit for service. Scouting Division IV, 
and the Leader of Torpedo-Boats in the light cruiser Rostock, 
together with the Torpedo-Boat Flotillas I, II, V, and VII, were 
attached to the battleships. 

To the west of the Amrum Bank a passage had been cleared 


The Battle of the Skagerrak 

through the enemy minefields which led the High Sea forces safely 
to the open sea. Visibility was good, with a light north-westerly 
wind, and there was no sea on. At 7.30 a.m. "U 32" reported at 
about 70 miles east of the Firth of Forth, two battleships, two 
cruisers, and several torpedo-boats taking a south-easterly course. 
At 8.30 a second wireless was received stating that she had intercepted 
English wireless messages to the effect that two large battleships 
and groups of destroyers had run out from Scapa Flow. At 8.48 
A.M. a third message came through from ''U66" that about 60 
nautital miles east of Kinnairel [sic, ? Kinnaird Head], eight enemy 
battleships, light cruisers, and torpedo-boats had been sighted on a 
north-easterly course. 

These reports gave no enlightenment as to the enemy's purpose. 
But the varied forces of the separate divisions of the fleet, and their 
diverging courses did not seem to suggest either combined action 
or an advance on the German Bight or any connection with our 
enterprise, but showed a possibility that our hope of meeting with 
separate enemy divisions was likely to be fulfilled'. We were, 
therefore, all the more determined to keep to our plan. Between 
2 and 3 P.M. "L" 9, 14, 16, 21 and 23 ascended for long-distance 
reconnaissance in the sector north to west of Heligoland. They 
took no part in the battle that so soon was to follow, neither did 
they see anything of their own Main Fleet, nor of the enemy, nor 
hear anything of the battle. 

The First Phase of the Battle:' Cruiser Engagement 

At 4.28 P.M. the leading boat of the 4th Torpedo-Boat Half- 
Flotilla, *'B 109," reported that Elbing, the west wing cruiser on 
the Chief of Reconnaissance's line, had been sent to examine a 
steamer about 90 nautical miles west of Bovbjerg, and had sighted 
some enemy forces. It was thanks to that steamer that the engage- 
ment took place; our course might have carried us past the English 
cruisers had the torpedo-boat not proceeded to the steamer and thus 
sighted the smoke from the enemy in the west. 

As soon as the enemy, comprising eight light cruisers of the 
" Caroline " type, sighted our forces, he turned ofif to the north. 
Admiral Bodicker gave chase with his cruisers. At 5.20 p.m. the 
Chief of the Reconnaissance then sighted in a westerly direction 
two columns of large vessels taking an easterly course. These soon 


Germany's High Sea Fleet 

showed themselves to be six battle-cruisers, three of the ''Lion" 
class, one "Tiger," and two " Indefatigables," besides numbers of 
lighter forces. The Chief of Reconnaissance called back Scout- 
ing Division II, which he had sent to give chase in the north, 
and prepared to attack. The enemy deployed to the south in fight- 
ing line. It was Vice-Admiral Beatty with the First and Second 
English Battle-Cruiser Squadrons, consisting of the Lion, Princess 
Royal, Queen Mary, Tiger, New Zealand, and Indefatigable. That 
the enemy deployed to the south was a very weloMne fact for us, 
as it offered the possibility of inducing the enemy to fall back on 
his own main fleet. The Chief of Reconnaissance therefore followed 


OrdMT of SdliM 

the movement, manoeuvred to get within effective firing range, and 
(^ned fire at 5.49 p.m., at d range of about 130 hm.* 

The fighting proceeded on a south-easterly course. The Chief 
of Reconnaissance kept the enemy at effective distance. The bat- 
teries fixed their aim well ; hits were observed on all the enemy ships. 
Already at 6.13 p.m., the battle-cruiser Indefatigable, the last in the 
tine <rf the enemy cruisers, sank with a terrible explosion caused by 
the guns of the Von der Tann. Superiority in firing and tactical 
advantages of position were decidedly on our side up to 6.19 p.m., 
when a new unit of four or five ships of the " Queen Elizabeth " type, 
with a considerable surplus of speed, drew up from a north-westerly 
direction, and beginning at a range of 200 hm., joined the fight- 

* E»rl B«a.tty gives the rAnge st about 18,500 yards. 


The Battle of the Skagerrak 

ing. It was the Fifth English Battle Squadron.* This made the 
situatipn critical for our coiiseis. The new enemy fired with extra- 
ordinary rapidity and accuracy, with the greater ease as r^ards the 
latter that he met with almost no .opposition, as our battle-cruisers 
were fully engaged with Admiral Beatty's ships. 

At 6.20 p,M. the fighting distance between the battle-cruisers 
on both sides was about 120 hm., while between our battle-<:ruisers 
and those with Queen Elisabeth the distance was something like 

PotitUm «t 5.49 P.M. 

180 hm. At this stage Torpedo-Boat Flotilla IX was the only one of 
the flotillas under the Chief of Reconnaissance that was in a posi- 
tion to attack. The Second Leader of Torpedo-Boats, Commodore 
Heinrich) on board the Regensburg, and some few boats belonging 
to Torpedo Flotilla 11, were getting up steam with all speed in a 
diagonal line from the Chief of Reconnaissance's furthest point. 

* According to Engliah acoonnts, it comprised the Barkam, Warsfite, Vdiani, 
and Mdaya, Hentioa ia made of fonr diips only. According to Tarions observations 
OQ car aide (bj SqoadroD III and tbe l^uler of Scoating Division II), there were 
^vt diipe. If Quttn EUtabtth, <st a similar type of £ip, was not in the unit, 
it is possible Uiat anoUier reoentlj built man-<^-war replaced her. 


Germany's High Sea Fleet 

The cruisers pf Scouting Division II, together with the remain- 
ing torpedo flotillas, were fprced by the '*|Queen Elizabeths" to 
withdraw to the east to escape their fire and had, therefore, in spite 
of working their engines to the utmost, not been able to arrive in 
ppsition at the head of the batde-cruisers. 

In view of the situation, the Secpnd Leader of the Torpedo- 
Boats ordered Torpedo Flotilla IX (whose chief, Captain Goehle, 
had already decided on his own initiative to prepare to attack) to 
advance to the relief pf the battle-cruisers. 








Potidoo «t 6.20. P.M. 

At about 6.30 P.M. Torpedo Flotilla IX proceeded to attack, 
running through heavy enemy firing. Twelve torpedoes were fired 
on the enemy lines at distances ranging between 95 — 80 hm. It was 
impossible to push the attack closer on the enemy, as at the same 
time that Flotilla IX got to work, eighteen to twenty English 
destroyers, covered by light cruisers, appeared on the scene to 
counter-attack and beat oflF our torpedo-boats. The result was a 
torpedo-boat fight at close range (1,000 — 1,500 m.). The Regensburg, 
tc^ether with the boats of Torpedo-Boat Flotilla II that were with her, 
and the centrally situated guns on the battle-cruisers, then joined in 
the fight. After about ten minutes the enemy turned away. On 
our side "V27" and "V29" were sunk, hit by shots from heavy 
calibre guns. The crews of both the boats were rescued in spite of 


The Battle of the Skagerrak 

enemy fire, by "V26" and "S35-" On the enemy side two, or 
perhaps three, destroyers were sunk, and two others so badly 
damaged that they could not get away, and fell later into the hands 
of our advancing Main Fleet, The enemy made no attempt to rescue 
the crews of these boats. 

During the attack by the torpedo-boats, the English battle- 
cruisers were effectively held in check by the Scouting Division I 
with heavy artillery, which at the same time manoeuvred so 
successfully that none of the numerous enemy torpedoes observed by 
Torpedo-Boat Flotilla IX hit their objectives. Towards 6.30 p.m. a 
powerful explosion was observed on board the third enemy cruiser — 
the Queen Mary. When the smoke from the explosion cleared away 
the cruiser had disappeared. Whether the destruction was the 
result of artillery action or was caused by a torpedo from the battle- 
cruisers or by a torpedo from Torpedo-Boat Flotilla IX can never be 
ascertained for certain, but most probably it was due to artillery 
action which caused an explosion of ammunition or oil on board 
the enemy vessel. It was not until night that I heard of the 
destruction of the two battle-cruisers. 

The attack by Flotilla IX had at all events been successful in 
so far that for a time it checked the enemy's fire. Admiral Hipper 
took advantage of this to divert the cruisers to a north-westerly 
course and thus secure for himself the lead at the head of the 
cruisers in the new phase of the fight. Immediately following on 
the attack by the torpedo-boats, the German Main Fleet appeared 
on the scene of battle just in the nick of time to help the recon- 
naissance forces in their fight against considerably superior numbers. 

The Second Phase of the Fight : The Pxmsurr 

At 4.28 P.M.* about 50 nautical miles west of Lyngoig, on the 
Jutland coast, the first news of the sighting of enemy light forces 
was reported to the Main Fleet proceeding in the following order : 

Squadrons III, I, II, the flagship at the head of Squadron I, 
on a northerly course, speed 14 knots— distance between the vessels, 
7 hm., distance between the squadrons, 35 hm., the torpedo-boats 

* In comparing the time given in the German and English accounts it must be 
remembered that there is a difference oi two hours, for the reason that we reckon 
according to summer-time in Central Europe, while the difference between ordinary 
Central Europe and Greenwich time is one hour. Therefore 4.28 German time 
corresponds to 2.a9 English time. 

Germany's High Sea Fleet 

as U-boat escort for the squadrons, the light cruisers of Scouting 
Division IV allotted to the Main Fleet to protect their course. 

At 5.3s the first report was sent that heavy forces had been 
sighted. The distance between the Chief of Reconnaissance and 
the Main Fleet was at that time about 50 nautical miles. On receipt 
<5f this message, the fighting line was opened (that is, the distance 
between the squadrons was reduced to 1,000 m., and between the 
vessels to 500 m.), and the order was given to clear the ships for 

In the fighting line the Commander-in-Chief of the Fleet is not tied 
to any fixed position. When there is a question of leading several 
squadrons it is not advisable to take up a positicm at the head of the 
line, as it is not possible from there to watch the direction in which 
the fight develops, as that greatly depends on the movements of 
the enemy. Being hound to any such positi<Hi might lead to the 
Commander-in-Chief finding himself at the rear insfead of at the 
head of his assembled line. A position in the centre or at a third 
of the line (according to the number of units) is more advantageous. 
In the course of events the place of the eighth ship in the line for 
the flagship has been tested and approved of. 

During the whole time that fighting was going on I had a clear 
look-out over the whole line and was able to signal with great 
rapidity in both directions. As the fighting line of the warships 
was more than 10 km. long, I should not have been able to over- 
look my entire line from the wing, especially under such heavy 
enemy firing. 

The message received at 5.45 p.m. from the Chief of Reconnais- 
sance that he was engaged with six enemy battle-cruisers on a south- 
easterly course showed that he had succeeded in meeting the enemy, 
and as he fought was drawing him closer to our Main Fleet. The 
duty of the Main Fleet was now to hasten as quickly as possible 
to support the battle-cruisers, which were inferior as to material, 
and to endeavour to hinder the premature retreat of the enemy. 
At 6.5, therefore, I took a north-westerly course at a speed of 15 
knots, and a quarter of an hour later altered it to a westerly 
course in order to place the enemy between two fires^ as he, on his 
southerly course, would have to push through between our line 
and that of the battle-cruisers. While the Main Fleet was still 
altering course, a message came from Scouting Division II that 
an English unit of warships, five ships (not four I) had joined in the 


The Battle of the Skagerrak 

The situation thus was becoming critical for Scouting Divi- 
sion I, confronted as they were by six battle-cruisers and five 
battleships. Naturally, therefore, everything possible had to be 
done to get into touch with them, and a change was made 
back to a northerly course. The weather was extremely clear, 
the sky cloudless, a light breeze from N.W., and a calm sea. At 
6.30 P.M. the fighting Hoes were sighted. At 6.45 p.m. Squadrons 
I and III opened fire, while the Chief of Reconnaissance, with 
the forces allotted to him, placed himself at the head of the 
Main Fleet. 

The light enemy forces veered at once to the west, and as soon 
as they were out of firing range turned northwards. .Whether 
the fire from our warships had damaged them during the short 
bombardment was doubtful, but their vague and purposeless hurry- 
ing to and fro led one to think that our fire had reached them and 
that the action of our warships had so surprised them that they did 
not know which way to turn next. 

The English battle-cruisers turned to a north-westerly course; 
Queen Elizabeth and the ships with her followed in their wake, 
and thereby played the part of cover for the badly damaged cruisers. 
In so doing, however, they came very much nearer to our Main 
Fleet, and we came on at a firing distance of 17 km. or less. 
While both the English units passed by each other and provided 
mutual cover, Captain Max Schultz, Chief of Torpedo-Boat Flotilla 
VI, attacked at 6.49 P.M., with the Eleventh Torpedo-Boat Half- 
Flotilla. The result could not be seen. 

The fighting which now ensued developed into a stern chase; 

Potidon «l 6b55 P.M. 


Germany^s High Sea Fleet 

our reconnaissance forces pressed on the heels of the enemy battle- 
cniisersi and our Main Fleet gave chase to the Queen EliMabeth and 
the ships with her. Our ships in Squadron III attained a speed 
of over 20 knots^ which was also kept up on board the Kaiserin. 
Just before fire was opened she had succeeded in repairing damage 
to one of her condensers. By the Fnedrich der Grosse, the Fleet 
Flagshipi 20 knots was achieved and maintained. In spite of this, 
the enemy battlo-cruisers succeeded soon after 7 o'clock in escap- 
ing from the fire of Scouting Division I. The Queen Elizabeth 
and her sister ships also made such good way that they were only 
under fire from the ships of Scouting Division I and of the 
Fifth Division (First Hall of Squadron III). The hope that one 
of the ships pursued would be so damaged as to fall a prey to our 
Main Fleet was not fulfilled^ although our firing was effectivei and 
at 7.30 P.M. it was seen that a ship fA the '' Queen Elizabeth ** type 
after she had been hit repeatedly, drew slowly put of the fighting 
line with a heavy list to leeward. Twp modern destroyers^ the 
Nestor and Nomad, were all that fell to the share of the Main Fleet ; 

PotitioB «t 7.15 P.lf. 

The Battle of the Skagerrak 

they were hit and badly damaged in the attack by Torpedo-Boat 
Flotilla IX, and were overtaken and sunk by us ; the crews were taken 

At 7*20 P.M., when the fire from Scouting Division I and 
from the ships of the Fifth Division appeared to grow weaker, the 
leaders of the Fleet were under the impres^on that the enemy was 
succeeding in getting away, and gave orders to the Chief of Recon<- 
naissance and to all the fighting forces "to give chase." Mean- 
while, the previously clear weather had become less clear ; the wind 
had changed from N.W. to S.W. Powder fumes and smoke from 
the funnels hung over the sea and cut off all view from north and 
east. Only now and then could we see our own reconnaissance 
forces. Owing to the superior speed of Beatty's cruisers, our own, 
when the order came to give chase, were already out-distanced by^ 
the enemy battle-cruisers and light craft, and were thus forced, m 
order not to lose touch, to follow on the inner circle and adopt 
the enemy's course. Both lines of cruisers swung by degrees in 
concentric circles by the north to a north-easterly direction. A 
message which was to have been sent by the Chief of Reconnais- 
sance could not be dispatched owing to damage done to the principal 
and reserve wireless stations on his flagship. The cessation of 
firing at the head of the line could only be ascribed to the increas- 
ing difficulty of observation with the sun so low on the horizon, 
until finally it became impossible. When, therefore, enemy light 
forces began a torpedo attack on pur battle-cruisers at 7.40 p.m., 
the Chief or Reconnaissance had no alternative but to manoeuvre 
and finally bring the unit round to S.W. in an endeavour to close 
up with the Main Fleet, as it was impossible to return the enemy's 
fire to any purpose. 

Thb Third Phasb of the FightingT The Battle 

I observed almost simultaneously that the admiral at the head 
of our squadron of battleships began to veer round to starboard in 
an easterly direction. This was in accordance with the instruc- 
tions signalled to keep up the pursuit. As the Fleet was still divided 
in columns, steering a north-westerly course as directed, the order 
"Leader in Front" was signalled along the line at 7.45 p.m., and 
the speed temporarily reduced to 15 knots, so as to make it possible 
for the divisions ahead, which had pushed on at high pressure, to 
get into position again. 


Germany's High Sea Fleet 

As long as the pursuit was kept up, the movements of the 
English gave us the direction, consequently our line by degrees 
veered round to the east. During these proceedings in the Main 
Fleet, Scouting Division II, under Rear-Admiral Bodicker, 
when engaged with a light cruiser of the *' Calliope" class,* which 
was set on fire, sighted several light cruisers of the "Town *' class, 
and several big ships, presumably battleships, of which the 
Agincourt was one. Owing to the mist that hung over the water, 

PotidcNi from 7.43 to 8 TM. 

it was impossible to ascertain the entire strength of the enemy. 
The group was at once heavily fired on, returned the fire, discharged 
torpedoes, and turned in the direction pf their own Main Fleet. 
No result could be observed, as artificial smokef was at once 

* According to EngUah accounts the light cruiaer Chester was badly damaged. 
Her casualties were 31 killed and 50 wounded, and she had four hdes just above 
the ^v&ter-line. 

f Artificial fog or smoke, prepared by a special prcfeass at the largest dye-works, 
and supplied to all the lighter forces to enable them to withdraw from the fire of 
superior forces. 


The Battle of the Skagerrak 

employed to protect the cruisers. In spite of the fog the Wiesbaden 
and Pillau were both badly hit. The Wiesbaden (Captain Reiss) 
lay in the thick of the enemy fire, incapable of action. 

The Chiefs of the 12th and 9th Torpedo-Boat Half-Flotillas who 
were stationed behind the cruisers, recognising the gravity of the 
situation, came to the front. Both came under fire from a line of 
numbers of big ships on a N.W. course, and fired their torpedoes 
from within 60 hm. of the enemy* Here, too, it was impossible to 
observe what success was achieved, as dense clouds of smoke hid the 
enemy from view directly they veered round. But both the above- 
mentioned commanders reckon that they met with success, having 
attacked under favourable conditions. 

While this encounter with the advance guard of the English 
Main Fleet was taking place, we, on our flagship were occupied 
debating how much longer to continue the pursuit in view of the 
advanced time. There was no longer any question of a cruiser 
campaign against merchantmen in the Skagerrak, as the meeting 
with the English fighting forces which was to result from such action 
had already taken place. But we were bound to take into considera- 
tion that the English Fleet, if at sea, which was obvious from the 
ships we had encountered, would offer battle the next day. Some 
steps would also have to be taken to shake off the English light 
forces before darkness fell in order to avoid any loss to our Main 
Fleet from nocturnal torpedo-boat attacks, 

A niessage was then received from the leader of Scouting Divi- 
sion H that he had been fired on by some newly arrived large 
ships. At 8.2 p.m. came a wireless : * Wiesbaden incapable of 
action." On receipt of the message I turned with the Fleet two 
points to larboard [port] so as to draw nearer to the group and 
render assistance to the Wiesbaden. From 8.20 onwards there was 
heavy fighting round the damaged Wiesbaden, and good use was 
made of the ship's torpedoes. Coming from a north-north-westerly 
direction, the ''Queen Elizabeth" ships and also probably Beatty's 
battle-cruisers attacked (prisoners, however, stated that after 7.0 p.m. 
the latter took no part in the fight). 

A fresh unit of cruisers (three "Invincibles*' and four •'War- 
riors") bore down from the north, besides light cruisers and 
destroyers* A further message from the torpedo-boat flotillas which 
had gone to support Scouting Division II, stated that they had 
sighted more than twenty enemy battleships following a south- 
easterly course. It was now quite obvious that we were confronted 

Germany's High Sea Fleet 

by a large portion of the English Fleet and a few minutes later their 
presence was notified on the hori2X>n directly ahead of us by rounds 
of firing from guns of heavy calibre. The entire arc stretching from 
north to east was a sea of fire. The flash from the muzzles of the 
guns was distinctly seen through the mist and smoke on the horizon, 
though the ships themselves were not distinguishable. This was 
the beginning of the main phase of the battle. 

PotitSon «t 6.16 P.M. 

There was never any question of our line veering round to 
avoid an encounter. The resolve to do battle with the enemy stood 
firm from the first. The leaders of our battleship squadrons, the 
Fifth Division turned at once for a running fight, carried on at about 
13,000 m. The other divisions followed this movement on orders 
signalled from the flagship. By this time more than a hundred 
heavy guns had joined in the fight on the enemy's side, directing fire 
dhiefly at our battle-cruisers and the ships of the Fifth Division (tfie 
"Konig" class). The position of the English line (whose centre we 
must have faced) to our leading point brought fire on us from three 

The Battle of the Skagerrak 

sides. The "Queen Elizabeths" fired diagonally from larboard 
[port] ; the ships of the Main Fleet, which Jelliooe had brought up, 
from the forecastle starboard. Many shots were aimed at the 
Friedrich der Grosse, but the ship was never hit. 

During this stage of the fight the cruisers Defence, Black Prince, 
and Warrior came up from the north, but were all destroyed by the 
fire from our battleships and our battle-cruisers. Fire from the 
Friedrich der Grosse was aimed at one of the three, which in a huge 
white cloud of steam was blown into the air, at 3,000 m. distance. 
I observed several enemy hits and consequent explosions on the 
ships at our leading point. Following the movement of the enemy 
they had made a bend which hindered free action of our Torpedo- 
Boat Flotilla II stationed tlhere. 

I could see nothing of our cruisers, which were still farther 
forward. Owing to the turning aside that was inevitable in 
drawing nearer, they found themselves between the fire of both 
lines. For this reason I decided to turn our line and bring it on to 
an opposite course. Otherwise an awkward situation would have 
arisen round the pivot which the enemy line by degrees was passing, 
as long-distance shots from the enemy would certainly have hit 
our rear ships. As regards the eflfectiveness of the artillery, the 
enemy was more favourably situated, as our ships stood out against 
the clear western horizon, whereas his own ships were hidden by 
the smoke and mist of the battle. A running artillery fight on a 
southerly course would therefore not have been advantageous to 
us. The swing round was carried out in excellent style. At our 
peace manoeuvres great importance was always attached to their 
being carried out on a curved line and every means employed to 
ensure the working of the signals. The trouble spent was now 
well repaid; the cruisers were liberated from their cramped 
position and enabled to steam away south and appeared, as soon 
as the two lines were separated, in view of the flagship. The torpedo- 
boatSy too, on the leeside of the fire had room to move to the attack 
and advanced. 

While the veering round of the line was proceeding, two boats 
of Torpedo-Boat Flotilla III ("G88" and "V73") and the leading 
boat of Torpedo-Boat Flotilla I ("S 32 ") had attacked. TJie remain- 
ing boats of Torpedo-Boat Flotilla III had ceased the attack on an 
order to retire f rwn the leader. The weakening of the enemy fire had 
induced the First Leader to give the order, being persuaded that the 
enemy had turned away and that the flotilla, which would be urgently 


Germany's High Sea Fleet 

needed in the further development of the battle, would find itself 
without support. Owing to the shortening of the line at the head, 
the boats oi the other flotillas were not able to attack. One division 
(Torpedo-Boat Flotillas IX and VI) had just returned from the 
8 o'clock attack. The enemy line did not follow our veer round. 
In the position it was to our leading pcnnt, it should have remained 
on, and could have held us still further surrounded if by a simul- 
taneous turn to a westerly course it had kept firmly to our line. 




Potldon «t 8.35 P.M. 

It may be that the leader did not grasp the situation, and was afraid 
to come any nearer for fear of torpedo attacks. Neither did any of 
the other oflScers on the enemy side think of holding firmly to our 
line, which would have greatly impeded our movements and 
rendered a fresh attack on the enemy line extremely difficult. 

Immediately after the line was turned the enemy fire ceased 
temporarily, partly because the artificial smoke sent out by the 
torpedo-boats to protect the line — ^the battle-cruisers in particular — 
greatly impeded the enemy's view, but chiefly no doubt on account 
of the severe losses the enemy had suffered. 

Losses that were observed for certain as sunk wereT a ship of 
the ''Queen Elizabeth " class (name unknown), a battle-cruiser 


The Battle of the Skagerrak 

{Invincible)^ two armoured cruisers {Black Prince »nd Defence)^ the 
light cruiser Shark, and one marked "O 24." Heavily damaged and 
partially set on fire were : One cruiser ( Warrior, sunk later), three 
light cruisers, three destroyers (of which the Acasta was one). 

On our side **V48" was the only destroyer sunk, the WieS" 
baden was rendered incapable, and the LUtzow so badly damaged 
that the Chief of Reconnaissance was subsequently compelled at 
9 P.M. to leave the ship under the enemy's fire, and transfer to 
the Moltke. The leadership of 3couting Division I was thus 
made over to the Derfflinger (Captain Hartog) until 11 p.m. The 
other battle-cruisers and the leading ships of Squadron III had 
also suflfered, but kept their place in the line. No one reported 
inability to do so; I was, therefore, able to reckon on their being 
fully prepared to fight. After the enemy was forced to cease firing 
on our line steering S.W., he flung himself on the already heavily 
damaged Wiesbaden. The ship put up a gallant fight against the 
overwhelmingly superior forces, which was clearly to be seen as 
she had emerged from out of the clouds of smoke and was distinctly 

It was still too early for a nocturnal move. If the enemy 
followed us our action in retaining the direction taken after turn- 
ing the line would partake of the nature of a retreat, and in the 
event of any damage to our ships in the rear the Fleet would be 
compelled to sacrifice them or else to decide on a line of action 
enforced by enemy pressure, and not adopted voluntarily, and would 
therefore be detrimental to us from the very outset. Still less 
was it feasible to strive at detaching oneself from the enemy, leaving 
it to him to decide when he would elect to meet us the next morning. 
There was but one way of averting this — ^to force the enemy into 
a second battle by another determined advance, and forcibly compel 
his torpedo-boats to attack. The success of the turning of the 
line while fighting encouraged me to make the attempt, and decided 
me to make still further use of the facility of movement. The 
manoeuvre would be bound to surprise the enemy, to upset his plans 
for the rest of the day, and if the blow fell heavily it would facilitate 
the breaking loose at night. The fight of the Wiesbaden helped 
also to strengthen my resolve to make an effort to render assistance 
to her and at least save the crew. 

Accordingly, after we had been on the new course about a 
quarter of an hour, the line was again swung round! to starboard 
on an easterly course at 8.55 p.m. The battle-cruisers were ordered 


Germany*8 High Sea Fleet 

to operate with full strength on the enemy's leading point, all 
the torpedo-boat flotillas had orders to attack, and the First Leader of 
the torpedo-boats, Commodore Michelsen, was instructed to send his 
boats to rescue the Wiesbaden's crew. The boats told off for this 
purpose were compelled to relinquish the attempt. The Wiesbaden 
and the boats making for her were in the midst of such heavy fire 
that the leader of the torpedo-boats thought it useless to sacrifice 
his boats. In turning to go back "V73" and "G88" together 
fired off four torpedoes at the ''Queen Elizabeths." 

The battle that developed after the second change of course 
and led to the intended result very soon brought a full resumption 
of the firing at the van which, as was inevitable, became the same 
running fight as the previous one, in order to bring the whole of the 
guns into action. This time, however, in spite of "crossing the T," 
the acknowledged purpose was to deal a blow at the centre of the 
enemy line. The fire directed on our line by the enemy concentrated 
chiefly on the battle-cruisers and the Fifth Division. The ships 
suffered all the mora as they could see but little of the enemy beyond 
the flash of fire at each round, while they themselves apparently 
offered a good target for the enemy guns. The behaviour of the 
battle-cruisers is specially deserving of the highest praise; crippled 
in the use of their guns by their numerous casualties, some of them 
badly damaged, obeying the given signal, "At the enemy," they 
dashed recklessly to the attack. 

The conduct of Squadron II (Rear- Admiral Behncke) and 
the action of the ships of the Fifth Division are equally worthy 
of recognition. They, together with the battle-cruisers, bore the 
brunt of the fight, and thus rendered it possible for the torpedo-boat 
flotillas to take so effective a share in the proceedings. The sys- 
tematic procedure of our ships in the line was a great help to the 
flotillas on their starboard side in opening the attack. The first to 
attack were those ahead with the cruisers, the boats of Flotillas VI 
and IX. Next came Flotillas III and V from the Main Fleet. 
Flotilla II was kept back by the Second Leader of torpedo-boats, 
for fear it might be left unprotected behind VI and IX. This 
action was justified by the course of events. The ist Torpedo 
Half-Flotilla and a few boats from Flotillas VI and IX were occupied 
in covering the damaged Liitzow. There was no longer any oppor- 
tunity for an attack by Flotilla VII which had been in the rear of 
our fighting line. As they advanced Flotillas VI and IX were 
met by the heavy enemy fire that until then had been directed 


, The Battle of the Skagerrak 

against the battle-cruisers; they carried the attack to wittiin 70 hm. 
against the centre of a line comprising more than twenty large 
battleships steering in a circle E.S.E. to S., and opened fire under 
favourable conditions. In the attack "S 35 '^ was hit midships and 
sank at once. All the other boats returned, and in doing so sent 
out dense clouds of smoke between the enemy and our own Main 
Fleet. The enemy must have turned asidie on the attack of Flotillas 

GUA««n EU2ab«IHs 



3 BOMC C|B« A. 


Potition at 9.17 P.M. 

VI and IX. Flotillas III and V that came after found nothing but 
light crafty and had no opportunity of attacking the battleships. 
The action of the torpedo-boat flotillas had achieved its purpose. 

At 9.17 P.M., therefore, the line was again for the third time 
swung round on to a westerly course, and this was carried out at 
the moment when the flagship Friedrich der Grosse was taking 
a southerly course close by the turning point. Although the signal 
to swing round hung on the starboard side and was being carried 
out by the neighbouring ships, I made the Chief of the Friedrich 
der Grosse carry out the turn to larboard [port]. 


Germany's High Sea Fleet 

This might have led the ships following behind to think that 
there was a mistake in the signalling. But my intention to get 
through and save the ships in front of the Friedrich der Grosse 
from a difficult situation in carrying out the manoeuvre was rightly 
understood by Vice-Admiral Ehrhardt Schmidt in the Ostfriesland, 
the Leader of Squadron I. He did not wait, therefore, for the 
carrying out of the movement from the rear — ^which is the general 
rule to avoid all danger of collision — but himself gave the lead 
in the turning of his squadron by starting the turn to starboard 


*^* ^ J ) 



.J • 

nach Stcuerbord: 

4! ' m^ 



Swblial RoQiid to StarbiMird 

with the O^/{ff!f)05lafki-Han<i thus forced his ships ttound. This 
.action was a very satisfactory proof of the capable handling of the 
ships and the leaders' intelligent grasp of the situation. 

After the change to a westerly course the Fleet was brought 
round to a south-westerly, southerly, and finally to a south-easterly 
course to meet the enemy's encircling movement and keep open 
a way for our return. The enemy fire ceased very soon after we 
had swung round and we lost sight of our adversary. The enemy's 
casualties at this stage of the fighting cannot be given. 

Excepting the effects of direct hits which we were able to confirm 
from the flames of explosions, the enemy has only admitted the 
damage to the Marlborough by torpedoes.* On our side all the ships 
were in a condition to keep up the speed requisite for night work (i6 
knots) and thus keep their place in the line. 

* Admiral Jelliooe admits that torpedoes reached his line, but daims to have 
escaped further damage by the clever handling of his ships. Oar assumption that 
he hkd Already turned back before the attack by the torpedo-boats is thus confirmed. 


The Battle of the Skagerrak 

Night Movements and Battles 

Twilight was now far advanced^ and it was only foy personal 
observation that I could assure myself of the presence and external 
condition of those ships that chiefly had been under fire, and 
especially that the LMtzow was able to keep with the unit. At 9.30 
the battle-cruiser was seen to larboard [port] of the flagship, and had 
reported that she could do 15 knots. The report made by 
the torpedo-boat flotilla as to the enemy's strength and the 
extension of his firing line made it quite certain that we bad been 
in battle with the entire English Fleet. It might safely be expected 
that in the twilight the enemy would endeavour by attacking with 
strong forces, and during the night with destroyers, to force us over \ 
to the west in order to open battle with us when it was light. He was ^ 
strong enough to do it. If we could succeed in warding off the 
enemy's encircling movement, and could be the first to reach Horns 
Reef, then the liberty of decision for the next morning was assured 
to us. In order to make this possible all flotillas were ordered to be 
ready to attack at night, even though there was a danger when day 
broke of their not being able to take part in the new battle that 
was expected. The Main Fleet in close formation was to make for 
Horns Reef by the shortest route, and, defying all enemy attacks, 
keep on that course. In accordance with this, preparations for the 
Qight were made. 

The Leaders of the torpedo-boats were instructed to arrange night 
attacks for the flotillas. At 9.20 a southerly course was ordered. 
In changing to this course Squadron II had fallen out on the star- 
board side as the leading ship of Squadron I fell into the new course, 
not being able to fix the position of Squadron II, Owing to the 
latter's inferior speed it fell behind the ships of Squadrons III and I 
in the last part of the day's battle. Squadron II now attempted, 
at full speed and manoeuvring to larboard [port], to resume its 
place in front of Squadron I, which was its rightful position, after the 
Fleet had been turned. It came, therefore, just in time to help our 
battle-cruisers that were engaged in a short but sharp encounter with 
the enemy shortly before it was quite dark. While Scouting Divi- 
sions I and II were trying to place themselves at the head of our 
line they were met at 10.20 by heavy fire coming from a south- 
easterly direction. Nothing could be seen of the enemy beyond 
the flash of the guns at each round. The ships, already heavily 


Germany's High Sea Fleet 

damaged, were hit again without being able to return the fire to any 
purpose. They turned back, therefore, and passed in between 
Squadrons II and I to leeward of the firing. 

The head of Squadron I followed the movements of the cruisers, 
while Squadron II (Rear- Admiral Mauve) stood by and took 
the enemy's fire. When Squadron II became aware that the failing 
light made any return fire useless it withdrew, thinking to attract the 

enemy to closer quarters with Squad- 
ron I. The enemy did not follow, but 
ceased firing. 

Almost at the same time the 
Leader of Scouting Division IV. 
Commodore von Renter, under similar 
conditions, had been engaged in a 
short encounter with four of five 
cruisers, some of them ships of the 
" Hampshire " class. 

Following on this attack, we 
took a south-easterly course which 

Tii« SitiMtioa at 10.30 p.iir was at once seen to be necessary 

and adopted by Squadron I, bring- 
ing Squadron II again on the starboard side of the Fleet. In 
view of the fact that the leading ships of the Main Fleet would 
chiefly have to ward off the attacks of the enemy, and In order that 
at daybreak there should be powerful vessels at the head, Squadron II 
was placed in the rear. At ii p.m. the head of the line stood at 
36' 37' North latitude, and s*' 30' East longitude. At 11. 6 p.m. the 
order for the night was "Course S.S.E. % E, speed 16 knots." 

Out of consideration for their damaged condition. Scouting 
Division I was told off to cover the rear, Division II to 
the vanguard, and the IVth to cover the starboard side. The 
Leaders of the torpedo-boat forces placed the flotillas in an E.N.E. 
to S.SjW. direction, which was where the enemy Main Fleet could 
be expected. A great many of the boats had fired off all their 
torpedoes during the battle. Some were left behind for the protection 
of the badly damaged Lutzow; others were retained by tiie flotilla 
leaders in case of emergency. The rescue of the crews of the 
Elbing and Rostock was due to that decision. 

The Second, Fifth and Seventh, and part of the Sixth and Ninth 
were the only Flotillas that proceeded to the attack; the boats had 
various nocturnal fights with enemy light forces. They never 


The Battle of the Skagerrak 

sighted the Main Fleet. At 5 a.m. on June i "L24" sighted a 
portion of the Main Fleet in Jammer Bay. It was as we surmised 
—after the battle the enemy had gone north. Flotilla II, which 
had been stationed at the most northerly part of the sector, was forced 
back by cruisers and destroyers, and went round by Skagen; at 
4 o'clock when day broke the other flotillas collected near the Main 

The battleship squadrons proceeded during the night in the 
following order ; Squadron I, Flagship of the Fleet, Squadron III 
and Squadron II. Squadrons I and II were now in reversed 
positions; that is to say, the ships previously in the rear were now 
at the van . 

Other attempts to bring the admirals ahead were abandoned 
owing to the darkness and lack of time. The conduct of the line 
was entrusted to Captain Redlich on the Wesifalen. The enemy 
attacked from the east with both light and heavy forces during 
the night almost without ceasing. Scouting Divisions I and II 
and the ships in Squadron I in particular were to ward off 
the attacks. The result was excellent. To meet these attacks in 
time, bring the enemy under fire and by suitable manoeuvring evade 
his torpedoes, demanded the most careful observation on board the 
vessels. Consequently the line was in constant movement, and it 
required great skill on the part of the commanders to get into posifion 
again, and necessitated a perpetual look-out for those manoeuvring 
just in front of them. Very little use was made of the searchlights. 
It had been proved that the fire from the attacking boats was aimed 
chiefly at these illuminated targets. As our light guns and the 
navigation control on the ships were close to the searchlights, and 
because of the better view to be obtained the officers and men on duty 
there would not take cover^ several unfortunate casualities occurred. 
On board the Oldenburg the commander, Captain Hopfner, was 
severely wounded by a shell, and several officers and many of the 
crew were killed. 

Utterly mistakmg the situation, a large enemy cruiser with four 
funnels came up at 2 a.m. (apparently one of the "Cressy" class), 
and was soon within 1,500 metres of Squadron Ts battleships, 
the Thiiringen and Ostfriesland. In a few seconds she was on 
fire, and sank with a terrible explosion four minutes after opening 
fire. The destruction of this vessel, which was so near that the crew 
could be seen rushing backwards and forwards on the burning deck 
while the searchlights disclosed the flight of the heavy projectiles 

L 161 

Germany's High Sea Fleet 

till they fell and explodedi was a grand but terrible sight. 
Squadron I reported during the night that after carrying out an 
evading manoeuvre the Nassau had not returned in her place, and 
as she did not answer a call it was feared she had been torpedoed. 
Towards morning, however, there was a faint wireless from her 
reporting that she was standing by the Vyl Lightship at Horns Reef, 
and during the night had rammed and cut through a destroyer. 
After this exploit the conunander preferred not to return to our 
darkened line but made for the morning's rendezvous. 

A careful estimation showed that during the night one battle- 
cruiser, one light cruiser and seven destroyers were sunk on the 
enemy's side, and several battle^ruisers and destroyers badly 
damaged. The 2nd Division of Squadron I at the head of the line 
were specially successful in the defence they put up against torpedo 
attacks, as they themselves accounted for six destroyers. 

On our side the old light cruiser Frauenlob, the battleship 
Pommern and "V4" were sunk; Rostock and Elbing were 
abandoned and blown up. At 12.45 a.m. the Frauenloh (Captain 
Georg Ho£fmann), during a fight between Scouting Division IV 
and four cruisers of the "Town" class, was hit by a torpedo and, 
according to the accounts of the few survivors, went down fighting 
to the last. 

The PomrMtn (Captain Bolken) was torpedoed at 4.20 a.m. and 
went down with a violent explosion. Unfortunately none of the 
crew could be saved, as the wreckage drifted away so quickly that 
nothing was seen on the water by a ship following at 500 m. 

At 4.50 A.M. "V4" struck an enemy mine; the crew was not 
saved. At 1.30 a.m. the Rostock and Elbing to the larboard [port] 
of the head of Squadron I were engaged in a fight with destroyers, 
but had finally to withdraw from the enemy's torpedoes and break 
through Squadron I's line, so as not to impede the firing 
from the ships of the line. While doing this the Rostock was 
hit by a torpedo, and the Elbing and Posen collided. Both cruisers 
were. put out of action. The Rostock kept afloat till 5.45 a.m., but 
as enemy cruisers were then sighted she was blown up, the entire 
crew and the wounded having previously been taken off by the boats 
of Flotilla III. The crew of the Elbing was also taken over by a 
boat belonging to Flotilla III. The Commander, Captain Madlung, 
the First Officer, the Torpedo Officer and a cutter's crew remained on 
board to keep the ship afloat as long as possible. When, however, 


The Battle of the Skagerrak 

enemy forces were sighted at 4 a.m. the Elbing was also blown up. 
The remainder of the crew got away in the cutter and were 
subsequently picked up by a Dutch fishing-smack and returned 
home via Holland. 

The LUtzow was kept above water until 3.45 A.M. The Konig, 
the rear ship of the Fleet, lost sight of her at 11. 15 p.m. The vessel 
was at last steered from the stern. All efforts to stop the water 
pouring in were fruitless; the fore part of the ship had been too 
badly damagefd, and she had at last 7,000 tons of water in her. The 
screws revolved out of the water, and she had to be given up. The 
crew with all the wounded were taken off by the torpedo-boats 
"G40," "G37," "G38" and •'V45,".and the tuizow was sunk 
by a torpedo. Altogether the four boats had 1,250 men from the 
Liitzow on board. Twice they encountered enemy cruisers and 
destroyers, but on each occasion, led by the senior officer. Com- 
mander Beitzen (Richard), they attacked and successfully made their 
way into the German Bight. In the last engagement "G40" had 
her engines hit and had to be towed. 

When this report reached the Main Fleet the Second Leader of 
Torpedo-Boats on the Regensburg turned at once, regardless as to 
whether he might meet with superior English forces or not, and took 
over the towing party. "S32," Leader of Flotilla I (Captain 
Frohlich), was hit in her boiler at i a.m. and rendered temporarily 
useless. By feeding the boiler with sea water the captain succeeded, 
however, in taking the boat into Danish waters. From thence she 
was towed through the Nordmann Deep by torpedo-boats dispatched 
to her assistance. 

\ . These events prove that the English Naval forces made no eCFort 
to occupy the waters between the scene of battle and Horns Reef. 

It was only during the night that there was opportunity for the 
ships to report on the number of prisoners they had on board and 
to gather from them some idea of the enemy's losses. J^hert-i^ 
l^rnH thpt thf ^^TrY/^t^^f^ which we had r^^rvt^ ^^ hJ ha^^Y 
dama ged i n the hnttle, was sunk. Among other vessels reported 
sunk were the battle-cruisers Queen Mary, Indefatigable, and 
Invincible. This was all news to me, and convinced me that the 
English losses were far more considerable than our own. 

On arriving at Horns Reef at 5 a.m. I decided to remain there 
and await the Liitzow. I had not then heard of her fate. From 
11.30 P.M. on, the vessel had been able to do 13 knots. The 
last report from her was at 1.55 a.m. — ^transmitted by convoy-boat 



f ' 

• Germany's High Sea Fleet 

" G 40 " — stating that she was making very slow way, that the means 
of navigation were limited, that the gun power was reduced to a 
fifth, course south, station E 16. At 5.30 a.m. came a message that 
the Liitzow tiad been abandoned at 4 a.m. 

After that I had no difficulty in drawing my own conclusions. 

\ As the enemy did not come down from the North, even with light 

forces, it was evident that he was retiring, especially as nothing more 

could be seen of him notwithstanding that his torpedo-boats were 

about until dawn. 

The Situation on the Morning of June i 

"L" II, 13, 17, 22 and a^had gone up during the night for an 
early reconnaissance. At 5.10 a.m. "L ii " reported a squadron of 
twelve English battleships, numerous light craft and destroyers on a 
northerly course about the centre of the line Terschelling — Horns 
Reef, and immediately afterwards enemy battleships and battle- 
cruisers north of the first unit. The airship was heavily fired at but 
kept in touch until compelled to retire and lost sight of the enemy 
in the thick atmosphere. The airship's reports taken from its war 
diary are as follows: 

Reoonnaissance Trip of ** L 11 '' on June 1, 1916 

"On June 1 at 1.30, after midnight *Lii* went up at 
Nordholz with the following orders: As fourth airship to cover 
flank of High Sea forces, course N.W. to W. by Heligoland. Full 
crew on board, fresh soutli-westerly wind, visibility limited owing 
to ground fog and later to a fog-like atmosphere high up extending 
over 2 or at most 4 nautical miles. Heligoland was not visible 
through the fog. At 5 a.m. clouds of smoke were seen north of the 
ship in Square O 33 B and were made for. At 5.10 it was possible 
to make out a strong enemy unit of twelve large warships with 
numerous lighter craft steering north-north-east full speed ahead. 
To keep in touch with them ' L 11 ' kept in the rear and sent a 
wireless report, circling round eastwards. At 5.40 a.m. east of 
the first unit the airship sighted a second squadron of six big 
English battleships with lighter forces on a northerly course; when 
sighted, they turned by divisions to the west, presumably to get into 
contact with the first unit. As this group was nearer to the Main 
Fleet than the first one, ' L 11 ' attached itself to it, but at 5.50 a 


The Battle of the Skagerrak 

group of three English battle-cruisers and four smaller craft were 
sighted to the north-east, and, cruising about south of the airship, 
put themselves between the enemy Main Fleet and * L 1 1 .' Visibility 
was so poor that it was extremely difiBcult to keep in contact. For 
the most part only one of the units was visible at a time, while, 
apparently, the airship at an altitude of i,ioo — 1,900 m. was plainly 
visible to the enemy against the rising sun. 

"At 5*15, shortly after sighting the first group of battleships, the 
enemy opened fire on the airship from all the vessels with anti- 
aircraft guns and guns of every calibre. The great turrets fired 
broadsides; the rounds followed each other rapidly. The flash from 
the muzzles of the guns could be seen although the ships were 
hidden by the smoke. All the ships that came in view took up the 
firing with the greatest energy, so that * L 1 1 * was sometimes 
exposed to fire from 2 1 large and numbers of small ships. Although 
the firing did not take effect, that and the shrapnel bursting all 
around so shook the ship's frame that it seemed advisable to take 
steps to increase the range. The firing lasted till 6.20 a.m. At 
that time the battle-cruisers bearing down from S.W within close 
distance of * L ii ' forced her to retire to N.E. to avoid their fire. 
At the same time the visibility became worse and the enemy was 
lost to view. 

" ' L 1 1 ' again took a northerly course and went as low down as 
500 metres, in the hope of better visibility. It was impossible to see 
beyond i to 2 nautical miles, and as under these conditions no 
systematic plan for keeping in contact could be made, N. and S. 
course was followed so as to keep between the enemy and our own 
Main Fleet. The enemy did not come in sight again. 

"At 8 A.M. the Commander-in-Chief of the High Sea Fleet 
dismissed the airship, and ' L n ' returned. On the way back the 
ship came across a number of our own torpedo-boats exchanging 
bases, and messages were given for further transmission. The 
airship remained close to those boats as far as Sylt. Landed at 
Nordholz at 2 p.m." 

At 4 A.M., 50 nautical miles west of Bovbjerg, "L24" sighted 
a flotilla of enemy destroyers, was fired at and returned the fire 
with bombs, then got away further north, and at 5 a.m. discovered 
a unit of twelve ships in Jammer Bay, steaming rapidly to tlie 
south. It was impossible to keep in contact for further reconnais- 
sance as there was a bank of cloud as low down as 800 m. 

From the Main Fleet itself no signs of the enemy were visible 


Germany's High Sea Fleet 

/ at daybreak. The weather was so thick that the full length of a 
squadron could not be made out. In our opinion the ships in a 
south-westerly direction as reported by "L ii " could only just have 
come from the Channel to try, on hearing the news of the battle, 
to join up with their Main Fleet and advance against us. There 
was no occasion for us to shun an encounter with this group, but 
owing to the slight chance of meeting on account of visibility con- 
ditions, it would have been a mistake to have followed them. Added 
to this the reports received from the battle-cruisers showed that 
Scouting Division I would not be capable of sustaining a serious 
fight, besides which the leading ships of Squadron III could not 
have fought for any length of time, owing to the reduction in their 
supply of munitions by the long spell ot firing. The Frankfurt, 
Pillau and Regensburg were the only fast light cruisers now avail- 
able, and in such misty weather there was no depending on aerial 
reconnaissance. There was, therefore, no certain prospect of 
defeating the enemy reported in the south. An encounter and the 
consequences thereof had to be left to chance. I therefore abandoned 
the idea of further operations and ordered the return to port. 

On the way back, west of List, the Ostfriesland, at 7.30 a.m., 
struck a mine, one that evidently belonged to a hitherto unknown 
and recently laid enemy minefield. The damage was slight; 
the vessel shipped 400 tons of water, but her means of navigation 
did not suffer, and she was able to run into harbour under her own 
steam. I signalled, "Keep on." The last ships passed through 
the area without coming across further mines. 

Several submarine attacks on our returning Main Fleet failed 
entirely, thanks partly to the vigilance of the airmen vfeo picked 
up the Main Fleet over List, and escorted them to the mouth of the 
river. During the course of the day all the ships and boats were 
safely in their haven. Special mention must be made of the 
bringing-in of the Seydlits (Captain von Egidy) badly damaged at 
her bows. That the vessel ever reached the harbour is due to the 
remarkable seamanship of her commander and crew. Finally she 
was run astern into the dock at Wilhelmshaven. 

The U-boats lying off English harbours were told to remain at 
their posts a day longer. At 6.20 p.m., 60 miles north of 
Terschelling, the "U46" came across a damaged vessel of the 
"Iron Duke" class (the Marlborough). She was, however, so well 
protected that it would have been impossible to get within firing 
distance of her. A torpedo was fired^ but failed to reach the 


The Battle of the Skagerrak 

objective. Among the U-boats lying ofif enemy harbours the " U 21 " 
on May 31 and "U22*' on June i both succeeded in hitting a 
destroyer. In each case, however, the sinking could not be observed 
owing to enemy counter-action. Besides this, one of our mine- 
layers, occupied in laying mines west of the Orkney Islands, 
achieved an important success. The English armoured cruiser 
Hampshire (11,000 tons) struck one of these mines on June 5 and 
sank; with her periled Field-Marj^al Lord Kitchener and all 
his Staff. 


According to careful estimation made by us the enemy lost : 



1 Dreadnought of " Queen Elizabeth " class 28,500 

3 Battle^TU\seTs(Queen Mary, Indefatigable and Invincible) 63,000 *" 

4 Armoured Cruisers {Black Prince, Defence, Warrior and 

one of the "Cressy " type) 53>7oo 

2 Light Cruisers ... ... ... ... ... ... ... 9,000 

13 Destroyers ... ... ... ... ... ... ... i5>ooo 

Total ... ... ... ... 169,200 

We lost: 


I Battle-cruiser (Liiteow •) 26,700 

I older Battleship (Pomtn^m) 13,200 

4 Light Cruisers {Wiesbaden, Elbing, Rostock and 

Frauenlob) I7>i50 

5 Torpedo-boats 3,680 

Total 60,730 * 

The enemy's were almost complete losses, whereas we had 
rescued the crews of the LUtzow, Elbing, Rostock and half of those 
of the torpedo-boats. 

* In my first report of the battle sent to the Admiralty at Berlin the loss of the 
Luttow WB3 mentioned. The ttonouncement of this loss was suppressed by the 
Naval Staff, though not at my request. The enemy oould not have eeen tibe ship 
go down. In the interests of nayal warfare it was right to suppress the news. 
Unfortunately the secrecy observed produced the impression that it was necessary to 
enlarge our success to that extent. 


Germany's High Sea Fleet 

Our losses in personnel amounted to : 2,400 killed; 400 wounded. 

The enemy's losses may be estimated at over 7,000 killed. 

According to a list which he added to his report of June 18, 1916, 
Admiral Jellicoe endeavoured to exaggerate our losses in the 
following manner : 

Battleships or Battle-Cruisers 

2 Battleships^ "Dreadnought" type (certain) 

I Battleship, " Deutschland " type (certain) / \.. ■' 
I Battleship or Battle-cruiser (probable) ..-. " * ..." 
I Battleship, "Dreadnought" type (probable) ... 

Light Cruisers 

4 Light cruisers (certain) 

I Large ship or light cruiser (certain) 

Torpedo-Boat Destroyers 

6 Torpedo-boat destroyers (certain) 

3 Torpedo-boat destroyers (probable) 

Correct facts. 


/ one 






I Submarine (certain) ... 
3 Submarines (probable) 


With regard to the submarines he was totally mistaken, as none 
took part in the battle. I sent my final impressions of the battle 
in a written report of 4/7/16 to H.M. the Emperor as follows: 

" The success achieved is due to the eagerness in attack, the 
efficient leadership through the subordinates, and the admirable 
deeds of the crews full of an eminently warlike spirit. It was only 
possible owing to the excellence of our ships and arms, the systematic 
peace-time training of the units, and the conscientious development 
on each individual ship. The rich experience gained will be care- 
fully applied. The battle has proved that in the enlargement of 
our Fleet and the development of the diflFerent types of ships we 
have been guided by the right strategical and tactical ideas, and 
that we must continue to follow the same system. All arms can 
claim a share in the success. But, directly or indirectly, the far- 


The Battle of the Skagerrak 

reaching heavy artillery of the great battleships was the deciding 
factor, and caused the greater part of the enemy's losses that are 
so far known, as also it brought the torpedo-boat flotillas to their 
successful attack on the ships of the Main Fleet. This does not 
detract from the merits of the flotillas in enabling the battleships 
to slip away from the enemy by their attack. The big ship — 
battleship and battle-cruiser — is therefore, and will be, the main 
strength of naval power. It must be further developed by increasing 
the gun calibre, by raising the speed, and by perfecting the armour 
and the protection below the water-line. 

" Finally, I beg respectfully to report to Your Majesty that 
by the middle of August the High Sea Fleet, with the exception 
of the Derfflinger and Seydlitz, will be ready for fresh action. With 
a favourable succession of operations the enemy may be made to 
suffer severely, although there can be no doubt that even the most 
successful result from a high sea battle will not compel England 
to make peace. The disadvantages of our geographical situation as 
compared with that of the Island Empire and the enemy's vast 
material superiority cannot be coped with to such a degree as to 
make us masters of the blockade inflicted on us, or even of the Island 
Empire itself, not even were all the U-boats to be available for 
military purposes. A victorious end to the war at not too distant a 
date can only be looked for by the crushing of English economic 
life through U-boat action against English commerce. Prompted by 
the convictions of duty, I earnestly advise Your Majesty to abstain 
from deciding on too lenient a form of procedure on the ground that 
it is opposed to military views, and that the risk of the boats would 
be out of all proportion to the expected gain, for, in spite of 
the greatest conscientiousness on the part of the Chiefs, it would 
not be possible in English waters, where American interests are so 
prevalent, to avoid occurrences which might force us to make 
humiliating concessions if we do not act with the greatest 

I followed up my report on the battle with a more detailed 
account on July i6, 1916, after Admiral Jellicoe's report had 
appeared in the English Press. I quote here from the above- 
mentioned account: 

" Admiral Jellicoe's report, published in the English Press, 
confirms as follows the observations made by us: 


Germany's High Sea Fleet 

Grouping of the English Forces 

Under Vice-Admiral Beatty : 

ist and 2nd Battle-Cruiser Squadrons. 
5th Battle Squadron (** Queen Elizabeths "). 
ist, 2nd and 3rd Light Cruiser Squadrons. 
1st, 9th, loth and 13th Destroyer Flotillas. 

Admiral Jellicoe led: 

ist, 2nd and 4th Battle Squadrons (Fleet Flagship at the head of 

4th Battle Squadron). 
3rd Battle-Cruiser Squadron (" Invincibles ''). 
ist and 2nd Cruiser Squadrons. 
4th Light Cruiser Squadron. 
4th, nth and 12th Destroyer Flotillas. 


Intervention in the Battle by the English Main Fleet 

" When he first had news that the enemy was sighted, Admiral 
Jellicoe was north-west of Admiral Beatty 's forces. He thereupon 
advanced at full speed in column formation on a S.E. course, put 
the ist and 2nd Cruiser Squadrons for reconnaissance at the head 
of his formation, and sent forward the 3rd Battle Cruiser Squadron 
(apparently reinforced by the Agincourt *), to support Admiral 
Beatty. The 3rd Battle-Cruiser Squadron passed east of Admiral 
Beatty 's leader at 7.30 p.m. ; they heard in the south-west the thunder 
of guns, and saw the flashes, sent out the light cruiser Chester to 
reconnoitre, and themselves took a N.W. course. Shortly before 
8 o'clock the Chester encountered our Scouting Division II and was 
set on fire by them. After pursuing the Chester, Scouting Division 
II came across the 3rd Battle-Cruiser Squadron, which opened fire 
on them. The attacks at 8 p.m. by our Torpedo-Boat Flotilla IX 
and the 12th Half-Flotilla were launched against this 3rd Battle- 
Cruiser Squadron. 

"Admiral Beatty sighted the 3rd Battle-Cruiser Squadron at 
8.10 P.M., and at 8.21 p.m. had it ahead of the ist and 2nd Battle- 
Cruiser Squadrons he was leading. , 

"At 7.55 P.M. Admiral Jellicoe sighted the fire from the guns. 

* ObaeiTed by Sooating Division II. 


The Battle of the Skagerrak 

It was impossible for him to make out the position of our Fleet. 
The difiference between his and Admiral Beatty's charts added to 
the uncertainty in judging of the situation* The report says it was 
difficult to distinguish between friend and foe. At 8.14 p.m. the 
battleship squadrons turned east into the line between the ist and 
2nd Battle-Cruiser Squadrons and the sth Battle Squadron. At 
8.17 P.M. the ist Battle Squadron opened fire on the leaders of 

Potition of Bn^th Foroes at 8 p.iB. 

our ships of the line. Up to 10.20 p.m. those squadrons, with some 
few pauses, took part in the fighting. 

** Shortly before the battleship squadrons arrived, the ist Cruiser 
Squadron, together with light forces from the Main Fleet, joined 
in the fighting. At 8.50 p.m., therefore, between our first and 
second blows, Admiral Beatty put the 3rd Battle-Cruiser Squadron 
in the rear of the 2nd. At 9.6 p.m. the leaders of the battleships 
made for the south. The total impression received by us of the 
battle is made more complete by the statements in the English 
Press, and is not altered. 


Germany's High Sea Fleet 


The Enemy's Action during the Night 

"At 9.45 P.M. Admiral Beatty had lost sight of our forces. He 
sent the ist and 3rd Light Cruiser Squadrons to reconnoitre in 
the west, and at 10.20 P.M. went to their support with the ist and 
2nd Battle-Cruiser Squadrons, also on a westerly course. Imme- 
diately after came the encounter described in my report with the 
leading ships of our Main Fleet, consisting of Scouting Divi- 
sions IV and I and Squadron II. The fact that our 
forces turned westward must have led the English Admiral 
to assume that our Main Fleet had taken a westerly course, and 
made him follow in that direction. The fact that we at the same 
time put Squadron II in the rear, and with the new leader. 
Squadron I, again took a S.E. course, resulted in Admiral 
Beatty 's forces passing west in front of us and ultimately losing 
contact. It was obvious that after the battle the English Main 
Fleet was divided into two. Admiral Jellicoe's report makes no 
mention of this. The one portion, consisting of large battleships 
and light craft, took apparently northerly and easterly courses, as^ 
one group of ships was sighted by ' L 24 ' at 5 a.m. on June i in 
Jammer Bay, close under land. It may perhaps have been both 
those rear squadrons which made oflF on the attack by our Torpedo- 
Boat Flotillas VI and IX, and then apparently lost touch with the 
Main Fleet.* The other portion, under Admiral Jellicoe, consisting, 
according to observations by * Lii,' of eighteen large battleships, 
three battle-cruisers (probably the 3rd Battle-Cruiser Squadron) and 
numerous light forces, had, up to 10.46 p.m., been steering south 
and then south-west. It would appear, from intercepted English 
wireless messages, that he covered 15 nautical miles. Based on these 
courses and the speed, he must have crossed our course at midnight, 
10 to 15 nautical miles in front of us, and have taken later a course 
to the centre of the line Horns Reef — ^Terschelling, where he was 
seen at 5 a.m. by ' L ii * on a N.N.E. course. 


The Consequence of the Enemy's Action during the Night 

"Admiral Jellicoe must have intended to resume the battle with 
us at dawn. It is inexplicable, therefore, why a portion of the 

* According to Admiral Jeliiooe'a book, one group of battleships did not rejoin 
bim till 6 p.m. on June i. 


The Battle of the Skagerrak 

Main Fleet made for Jammer Bay during the night. Nor can it 
be understood how it was that the enemy's light forces, which were 
engaged with our Main Fleet up to 4.36 a.m. and thus were in touch 
with us the whole night, could find a way to inform Admiral Jellicoe 
and Admiral Beatty of our course and navigation. But even apart 
from thaty it must be assumed that the fire from our guns and the 
enemy's burning cruisers and destroyers would have pointed out the 
way to the English Main Fleet. In any case it is a fact that on the 
morning of June i the enemy's heavy forces were broken up into 
three detachments ; one in the North, a second with Admiral Beatty 
in the North-west, and the third with Adtniral Jellicoe South-west 
of Horns Reef. It is obvious that this scattering of the forces — which 
can only be explained by the fact that after the day-battle Admiral 
Jellicoe had lost the general command — induced the Commander to 
avoid a fresh battle." 




ON June I at 3 p.m. the Friedrich der Grosse anchored in the Wil- 
helmshaven Roads. Meanwhile the crews on all our ships had 
attained full consciousness of the greatness of our successes against 
the superior enemy forces, and loud and hearty cheers went up as 
they steamed past the flagship of their leader. Though they had 
been under such heavy fire, very little external damage on the ships 
was apparent; none keeled over or showed an increased draught. 
On a closer inspection, however, considerable damage was dis- 
closed, but the armour-plating had so thoroughly served its 
purpose of protecting the vital parts of the ships that their navigating 
capabilities had not suffered. The Konig and Grosser Kurfurst 
went into dock as their anchor cables had been shot away. The 
battle-cruisers were also docked to find out to what extent repairs 
would be necessary. In their case the exterior damage was con- 
siderably greater. It was astonishing that the ships had remained 
navigable in the state they were in. This was chiefly attributable 
to the faulty exploding charge of the English heavy calibre shells, 
their explosive effect being out of all proportion to their size. A 
number of bits of shell picked up clearly showed that powder only had 
been used in the charge. Many shells of 34- and 38-cm. calibre had 
burst into such large pieces that, when picked up, they were easily 
fitted together again. On the other hand, the colour on the ships* 
sides, where they had been hit, showed that picric acid had been 
used in some of the explosive charges. A technical Commission 
from the Imperial Naval Department made a thorough investigation 
of the effects of the shots in order to utilise the experience gained. 
We arrived immediately at one conclusion — a final decision on the 
much-debated question of protective torpedo-nets for the Fleet to the 
effect that the nets must be done away with. On most of the ships 
they were so damaged as to make it impossible to remove them 
after the fighting; they hung, for the most part, in a dangerous 
fashion out of their cases and it was a wonder that they did not get 
entangled in the propellers, an occurrence which, during the battle — 
or at any time for that matter — might have greatly inconvenienced 


After the Battle 

the Fleet, The total impression produced by all the damage done 
was that by their splendid construction our ships had proved to be 
possessed of extraordinary powers of resistance. 

The next step was to make arrangements for the repairing of the 
ships as the docks at Wilhelmshaven were not able to cope with all 
the work, and it was essential that the Fleet should be brought as 
quickly as possible into a state of preparedness for action. The 
Wilhelmshaven yard was entrusted with the repairs of the Seydlitz, 
and the ships of Squadron I, of which the Ostfrie)sland — owing to a 
mine explosion — and the Helgoland — hit above the water-line — ^had 
to be placed in dock. The Grosser KurfUrst, Markgraf, and Moltke 
were sent to Hamburg to be repaired by Blohm & Voss and the 
Vulcan Works. The Konig and the Derjjlinger, after the latter had 
been temporarily repaired in the floating-dock at Wilhelmshaven, 
proceeded through the Kaiser Wilhelm Canal to the Imperial Yard 
and Howaldt's yard at Kiel . 

The Imperial Dockyards at Kiel under the management of Vice- 
Admiral von Henkel-Gebhardi, and those at Wilhelmshaven under 
Rear-Admiral Engel, as well as the private yards occupied on repairs, 
deserve the greatest credit for the excellent work done in restoring 
the Fleet. 

If the English Fleet had fared as well as the English Press 
accounts led us to believe we might count on their immediately 
seizing the opportunity for a great attack. But it never came off. 
Our efforts were centred on putting to sea again as soon as possible 
for a fresh advance. By the middle of August the Fleet was again 
in readiness, with the /exception of the battle-cruisers Seydlitz and 
Derfflinger. But a new ship, the Bay em, had been added to the 
Fleet, the first to mount guns of 38 cm. 

Immediately after the battle joyful messages and congratulations 
on the success of the Fleet poured in from all divisions of the army 
in the field, from every part of the country and from all classes of the 
people. I welcomed with special gratitude the many sums received 
towards the support of the families of the fallen and wounded, 
which showed in a touching manner the sympathy of the donors, 
and which, in a very short space of time, reached the sum of one 
million marks.* 

The first honour paid to the Fleet was a visit from His Majesty 
the Emperor on June 5, who, on board the flagship, Friedrich der 

* The ftmd, called " The Skagerrak Gift,'* is now administered by the Imperial 
Naval Institute, Berlin. 


Germany's High Sea Fleet 

Gross, made a hearty speech of welcome to divisions drawn from 
the crews of all the ships, thanking them in the name of the Father- 
land for their gallant deeds. In the afternoon the Emperor visited 
all the hospitals where the wounded lay, as well as the hospital 
ship Sierra VerUatui, where lay Rear-Admiral Behncke, Leader of 
Squadron III, who was wounded in the battle, and who was able to 
give the Emperor a detailed account of his impressions while at the 
head of the battleships. Several of the German princes also visited 
the Fleet, bringing greetings from their homes to the crews and 
expressing pride in the Fleet and the conduct of the men. The 
Grand Dukes of Mecklenburg-Schwerin and of Oldenburg came 
directly after the battle and were followed very soon after by the 
Kings of Saxony and Bavaria. 

All this afforded clear proof that no other organisation in the 
Empire was so fitted to signify its unity as the Navy, which brought 
together in closest contact those belonging to all classes in the 
Fatherland and united them by common action in fortune and 
misfortune. Apart from the inspection of the ships, these visits also 
offered an opportunity of gaining information respecting the general 
duties of the Fleet and the plans for the impending battle that was ex- 
pected, for, as those visits proved, the battle had greatly enhanced 
the interest in the Fleet throughout the whole country. 

The development of the battle and its lessons were thus sum- 
marised by me at the time : 

"The battle was brought about as a result of our systematic 
efforts to attract the enemy out of his retirement, especially of the 
more drastic operations which culminated in the bombardment of 
the English coast. England's purpose of strangling Germany 
economically without seriously exposing her own Fleet to the 
German guns had to be defeated. This offensive effort on our 
part was intensified by the fact that the prohibition of the U-boat 
trade-war made it impossible for us to aim a direct blow at England's 
vital nerve. We were therefore bound to try and prove by all 
possible means that Germany's High Sea Fleet was able and willing 
to wage war with England at sea and thus help to establish 
Germany's claim to independent overseas development. 

"The German idea incorporated in the founding of the Fleet 
had to hold its own in battle in order not to perish. The readiness 
to face a battle rests on the fundamental idea that even the 
numerically inferior must not shirk an attack if the will to con- 


After the Battle 

quer is supported by a devoted staff, confidence in material, and a 
firm conviction of perfect training, 

"A preliminary fight between cruisers lasting about two hours, 
which proved the superiority of our guns, was followed by the 
engagement with the vastly superior enemy Main Fleet. The 
clever attempts made by the English to surround and cut us off 
from home by their Main Fleet were turned into a defeat, as we 
twice succeeded in pushing into the enemy formation with all our 
strength, and in withdrawing from the intended encircling move- 
ment. In spite of various attacks during the night we forced a 
way for ourselves to Horns Reef, and thus secured an important 
strategical point for the following morning. 

"The enemy suffered twice as much material loss and three 
times as many losses in personnel as we did. English superiority 
was thus wrecked, for the Fleet was unable to keep in touch with 
us at the close of the day-battle and its own formation was 

"After an encounter with our leading ships, as darkness came 
on the English battle-cruisers lost touch with us in a mysterious 
way. They advanced into an empty North Sea. 

"At the end of the battle the English Main Fleet had lost 
touch with its other units and they only came together again the 
following day at 6 p.m. 

" After a continuous, and for the English very disastrous, night's 
fighting, Jellicoe did not seek us out the following morning, although 
he possessed both the power and the requisite speed to do so. 

"We have been able to prove to the world that the English 
Navy no longer possesses her boasted irresistibility. To us it 
has been granted to fight for the rights of the German Nation on 
the open seas, and the battle proved that the organisation of our 
Navy as a High Sea Fleet was a step in the right direction. The 
German national spirit can only be impressed on the world through 
a High Sea Fleet directed against England. If, however, as an 
outcome of our present condition, we are not finally to be bled to 
death, full use must be made of the U-boat as a means of war, so 
as to grip England's vital nerve." 

I expressed these views to the Imperial Chancellor, who visited 

the Fleet on June 30 in company with the Under-Secretary of 

State, von Stumm, and laid great emphasis on them in my report 

of July 4, as I noticed from communications from the Chief of 

M 177 

Germany's High Sea Fleet 

the Naval Stafif and the Naval Cabinet that efforts were on foot 
for resuming the U-boat warfare in its inadequate form. The 
Imperial Chancellor gave me a detailed but gloomy picture of the 
situation which forced him for the time to ward off any further 
enemies from Germany, who, he was convinced, would soon show 
themselves on the proclamation of unrestricted U-boat warfare. I 
explained to him the military reasons which would render ineffectual 
the carrying on of the U-boat war on a cruiser basis. 

Whether political circumstances would permit us to employ the 
most effective weapon against England was, however, a matter for 
the Cabinet to decide, and for my part as Chief of the Fleet I 
would not attempt to exert any pressure in that direction, as that was 
the business of the Naval Staff. But I could not approve of 
carrying on the U-boat campaign in a milder form, for that would 
be unsatisfactory from every point of view. The Imperial Chan- 
cellor agreed with me, but declared, for various reasons^ that he 
could not embark on a course of unrestricted U-boat warfare, 
because it was impossible to avoid incidents which might lead to 
complications, and the result would be that the fate of the German 
nation might lie in the hands of one U-boat commander. Before 
leaving Wilhelmshaven he met at dinner all the admirals then 
stationed there, and on this occasion he expressed the hope that in 
this war we should succeed in making good use of all the weapons of 
the Navy. 

After this visit, however, it became abundantly clear to me that 
for the time being we were hardly likely to resume the active U-boat 
campaign against English commerce. In a long interview with 
the Imperial Chancellor that afternoon, I gathered from his remarks 
that he was very anxious not to incense England further, or to 
provoke that country to "war to the death." 

Very soon all sorts of rumours arose concerning this visit : the 
Chancellor had gone with the object of persuading the admirals 
to weaken their attacks upon the British; he had more especially 
objected to the airship raids. All these reports were absolutely 
unfounded, for these matters were never touched upon, and more- 
over, I could not have considered it within his province to give me 
advice as to the manner in which war was to be waged. 

Until the active operations of the Fleet were resumed, the tor- 
pedo-boats continued their efforts to get in touch with the enemy. 
As the base in Flanders offered better opportunities for this, while 
the Fleet was restricted in its activities, a flotilla was despatched 


After the Battle 

there. This arrangement was continued later. At first detachments 
of the various flotillas were sent in turn, in order as far as possible 
to afford all boats the opportunity of becoming familiar with the 
methods of attack from that point. Later on, it appeared more 
advantageous to place a single flotilla for this purpose under the 
control of the Naval Corps, so as to make full use of the knowledge 
they had acquired of the local conditions. 

At the beginning of August it was possible to resume the 
air raids again, as the nights had by then grown darker. The first 
attack was made in the night of the 2nd and 3rd, and was directed 
upon the counties of Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex. London, too, 
was extensively bombed. In the night of August 8th — 9th there 
was another attack, this time upon the Midlands; and at the end 
of the month, in the night of August 24th — 25th, there was a third 
raid upon the City, and the south-west district of London, as well 
as upon Harwich, Folkestone and the roads at Dover. One army 
airship took part in this. In spite of active opposition the airships 
returned safely from all three expeditions. 

We learnt that the English defences had been decidedly im- 
proved, which rendered our attacks more difficult. The greater the 
effort England made to maintain her army on the Continent and in 
the other theatres of war, in order to do her part in forcing the 
decision against us on land, the more embarrassing she must have 
found it to organise a strong defence against airships. 

Between these two periods of attack the airships were placed at 
the service of the Intelligence Department in connection with an 
attack which was planned as soon as the ships had been made ready, 
and which was to be again directed towards Sunderland. No change 
in the strategic disposition of the English Fleet had been observed. 
The U-boat campaign against commerce in the war-zone round 
about England was still in abeyance, and the U-boats were ready 
to be used for military purposes. These two weapons, the airships 
and the U-boats, would, I thought, make up for the superiority of 
the English Fleet in other respects. 

The disposition of U-boats outside British ports on May 31 in 
accordance with the plan we had adopted had resulted in no success 
worth speaking of; it was bound to fail if the English Fleet was 
already at sea when the flotilla put out. Nor was their method of 
attack satisfactory. Before the Firth of Forth each of the seven 
U-boats which had been dispatched thither had a certain sector 
assigned to it, and these sectors radiated from a central point at the 


Germany's High Sea Fleet 

mouth of the estuary. The nearer the boats came to the estuary, 
the nearer they approached each other in the neighbourhood of this 
central point, so that they were liable to get in each other's way, or 
mistake one another for hostile craft. If they stood farther out to 
sea, the distance between them was increased and they lost their 
formation, thereby making it easier for the enemy to get through. 

The matter was, therefore, reconsidered, and new arrangements 
made which promised greater success. Trial was first to be 
made of the method of a movable base line in the direction of the 
probable approach of the enemy, on which line the U-boats were 
to take up positions. The boats in commission in the middle of 
August were divided into three groups, two of which consisted of 
boats belonging to the Fleet, and the other of boats attached to the 
Naval Corps in Flanders. The two former were first to take up 
positions indicated in the accompanying plan by ** U-Line I " and 
"U-Line III." In this way they afforded protection to the Fleet 
on either flank when proceeding to attack. The U-boats of the Fleet 
took up a position of defence for flank and rear against possible 
attacks from the Channel. In addition to the Lines I and III, other 
positions had been provided, which the boats were to take up either 
after a certain interval of time, or upon a prearranged signal. In 
order that the boats should be directed in accordance with the aims 
and movements of the Fleet, the officer commanding the U-boats 
was on board one of the battleships for the duration of the Fleet's 

The following was the plan for this enterprise against Sunder- 
land : The Fleet was to put out by night, to advance through the 
North Sea towards the English coast, so that the line of U-boats 
might come into action, if required. If no collision with the enemy 
occurred, and there were no indications that the English Fleet would 
cut off our retreat from the sea, the ships were to push on to the 
English coast and bombard Sunderland at sunset. After the bom- 
bardment, while the Fleet returned in the darkness to the German 
Bight, the U-boats were to take up their second positions in the 
direction of the probable approach of the enemy, if, as was expected, 
he should come up as a result of the bombardment. 

On August i8, therefore, at lo p.m., the Fleet put to sea from the 
Jade and set out upon the course indicated in the diagram. 

Squadrons III and I took part in full force; to Squadron II had 
been assigned the duty of protecting the German Bight. The 
cruisers were stationed at a distance of 20 nautical miles in advance of 




After the Battle 

the Fleet and were to maintain this distance throughout the advance. 
They were reinforced by the following battleships: The Bayern, 
which had only newly joined the Fleet after the battle of the Skager- 
rak; the Grosser KurfUrst and the Markgraf, because Scouting 
Division I was short of two battle-cruisers still under repair. A 
further reason for the reinforcement was the possibility that the 
fast squadron of "Queen Elizabeth" ships might have joined the 
English battle-cruisers. The distance of 20 nautical miles between 
our cruisers and the main body of the Fleet was to ensure immediate 
tactical co-operation in the event of our meeting the enemy, and to 
prevent the Cruiser Division, together with the three valuable battle- 
ships which had been assigned to it, from possibly failing to join up 
with the two other squadrons. 

Thanks to the clear weather which prevailed during the advance 
on the following day, August 19, the smoke of the cruisers was 
visible all the time. Eight airships, among them three of a new 
and improved type, had taken up their positions encircling the Fleet. 
I hoped by this means to be able to get early news of the approach 
of any considerable English force within the area covered by the 
airships. The advance of the Fleet took place according to plan 
along the course indicated in the sketch, up till 2.23 p.m. 

At 5.30 A.M. our advance guard met a submarine, which in- 
duced me to manoeuvre the Fleet so as to evade this danger. Never- 
theless, the submarine succeeded in getting within striking distance 
of the last ship of our line. At 7.5 a.m. the Westfalen reported that 
she had been hit amidships on the starboard side. Though the ship 
was not seriously damaged, I nevertheless feared that if she were 
struck by another torpedo she might be sunk, so I gave up the idea 
of her going on with us. The Westfalen was able to return to the 
Jade under her own steam, and on her way was attacked a second 
time, but the torpedo missed. In the course of the morning various 
items of information as to enemy movements were received from the 
airships and U-boats. The positions of the various fighting units 
and groups of the enemy that were notified, are indicated in the 

At 8.30 a.m. the "L 13 " sighted two destroyer flotillas and behind 
them a cruiser squadron proceeding at full steam on a south-westerly 
course, and at 1040 a.m. some small cruisers with three flotillas on 
a north-easterly course were seen. At our chief wireless station at 
Neuminster, owing to the many messages intercepted, they con- 
cluded that the English Fleet was at sea, and informed us to this 


Germany's High Sea Fleet 

effect. "U53" — Lieutenant-Commander Rose— sighted three large 
battleships and four small cruisers at 10.10 a.m. on a northerly 
course, and towards noon "L 21 " announced hostile craft on a north- 
easterly course. At 1.40 p.m. "U 52 " reported that she had sighted 
four small hostile cruisers on a northerly course at 9 A.M., and had 
sunk one of them. Thus the line arrangement had already proved 
effective. But from all the information received no coherent idea 
of the counter-measures of the enemy could be formed. We could 
safely assume that he was aware of the fact that we had put to 
sea, for the submarine that had hit the Westfalen had had ample 
time since 7 a.m. to send messages to England. Up to this time the 
remaining airships had reported no movement of larger forces, and 
the visibility in the locality of the Fleet justified the assumption that 
our airships commanded a clear view over the whole sea area. 

At 2.22 P.M. the "L 13 " reported that at 1.30 p.m. it had sighted 
in the south strong enemy forces comprising about 30 tmits, on a 
northerly course in Square 156, and I determined to advance against 
these forces. The Cruiser Division was called up, and when they 
had joined us, they were pushed forward in a south-easterly direction 
in column formation. At 2.30 p.m. another report came from the 
"L 13 " that the hostile forces were now in Square 144 on a course 
north by east, that they consisted of 16 destroyers, small and large 
cruisers and battleships. If we and they continued on our respective 
courses, we might expect to encounter them in two hours. The 
Scouting Division and Torpedo Flotilla II were sent ahead 
to reconnoitre. At 3.50 p.m. the "L 13" reported that it had lost 
touch with the enemy forces because it had been forced to turn aside 
from its course in order to avoid thunderstorms. Unfortunately the 
airship failed to get into touch with them again . ^ I hoped, however, 
soon to get news of the enemy from our ships, since, according to 
our reckonings it was now the hour when the encounter should take 
place; but I received no information from them. Either the enemy 
had changed his course, because he was disquieted by the presence 
of the airship which he assumed was scouting for the Fleet, or the 
airship, owing to its unreliable navigation, had incorrectly reported 
his position. 

The bulk of the fleet continued to advance until stopped by 
the minefields in the south. It being then 4.35 p.m., our course wa« 
altered to E.S.E., and we began our return journey. There was 
no further prospect of coming up with the enemy in the south, and 
it had grown too late to bombard Sunderland. While the Fleet 


After the Battle 

was moving in a south-easterly direction, reports came in from 
"U 53' " and two airships, "L ii " and "L31," which indicated that 
strong enemy forces had assembled at a spot about 60 nautical miles 
north of our course, and were steaming in such a direction that 
they would have met the main portion of our Fleet had it held on 
its course. "U53" had followed the hostile fleet until 4.30 p.m., 
when she lost sight of it as it was on a southerly course. Later, at 
9 P.M., by chance she again met the enemy sTiips, which were then 
on a north-westerly course. At 10.45 p*m. this enemy squadron 
passed within range of " U 65," so that this boat had a chance to 
attack, which it accepted and succeeded in damaging a large battle- 
ship with her torpedoes. The British Fleet then disappeared in a 
northerly direction under full steam. 

Another of our U-boats, "U66" (Lieutenant-Commander von 
Bothmer) encountered six battle-cruisers and a number of small, fast 
cruisers towards 6 p.m. ; these were steaming, when first seen, south- 
east, but later on their course was north-west. She succeeded in 
hitting a destroyer with a torpedo which sank her, and badly 
damaged a small cruiser of the "Chatham " class with two torpedoes. 
This same group was also sighted by the "L31." 

From reports received at 6 p.m. from "U53 " and "L31,** it was 
apparent that the British Main Fleet discontinued its advance to the 
south about 6 o'clock and turned back in a north-westerly direction. 
As to the movements of the hostile craft reported by "L 13 " at 2.23 
p.m., nothing further was discovered, except that from 7.40 p.m. 
onwards six small cruisers and two destroyer flotillas accompanied 
the main German force on its easterly course until darkness fell. 
They were first reported by "L 11 " and then sighted by our ships 
as their funnels and masts were just visible above the horizon. There 
was no doubt but that the English light craft must have recognised 
our big ships with their heavy smoke-clouds, and as they kept on 
the same course it was to be inferred that they would keep in touch 
with us until there was a chance of making a night attack. I had 
to decide whether or not I should send our light cruisers and torpedo- 
boats against them to drive them off, and I relinquished the idea of 
doing so, because Lreckoned that the English would have the advan- 
tage of us in speed. Moreover, I thought that after our lucky experi- 
ence on the night of June i, I might run the risk of a combined 
night attack. But so as not to be surprised by torpedo-boat attacks a 
strong guard of torpedo-boats was placed in our van, for the return 
journey by night. The English torpedo-boats, however, did not take 


Germany's High Sea Fleet 

advantage of this favourable opportunity to make a night attack upon 
our whole fleet. To our great surprise, "Lii" reported at 8.10 
P.M. that the enemy was sheering off in a south-easterly direction, 
and that at 10.10 p.m. he had turned completely and disappeared 
from view. Probably these light craft belonged to the group first 
reported by "L 13," and had separated from the battleships. 

No further special incidents occurred during our return journey. 
The cruiser attacked by "U66" was met by **U63'" the next day 
while she was being towed into port. "U63 " attacked the towing 
convoy, which had strong protection, and succeeded in sending 
two torpedoes into the cruiser, which then sank. The protecting 
destroyers immediately gave chase to " U 63 " ; one of them ran her 
down and rammed her slightly, without, however, doing any serious 
damage. "U66" sent the following report of her encounter with 
the enemy: At 5 p.m. she sighted small cruisers, two destroyer 
flotillas, and in the rear six battle-cruisers, all on a south-easterly 
course, and she managed to attack a four-funnel destroyer, appar- 
ently of the "Mohawk" class. Shortly aiter being torpedoed the 
destroyer lay with her stem projecting from the water, while her 
deck was submerged as far as the third funnel. A little later the 
whole cruiser squadron returned. "U 66 " then attempted an attack 
on the small cruisers, that were now in the rear, steaming 25 knots. 
She got within range of a cruiser of the "Chatham" class, and 
struck her first in the forecastle and then in the turbine room. The 
ship stopped at once and lay with a strong list. Kept under water 
by the hostile destroyers, it was two and a half hours before "U 66 " 
found an opportunity to attack for the second time. Shortly before 
firing this torpedo, our U-boat sighted a destroyer 300 metres away 
bearing down upon her at full steam. The U-boat quickly sub- 
merged. Immediately after a loud explosion occurred above the 
boat, the lights went out, the gratings burst oflf two hatches, the 
hatch-covers Sj^rang open so that the water poured in fore and aft, 
but luckily they were closed again by the pressure of the water. The 
boat was chased by destroyers until dark, and was then out of sight 
of the cruiser. 

"U 65," which encountered the English Fleet towards evening, 
made the following report. In the twilight she saw the English Fleet 
approaching on a westerly course. Its formation was three divisions 
in single line abreast, of which two comprised seven or eight large 
battleships, and the other five ships of the " Iron Duke " and 
"Centurion" classes, and a group of three battle-cruisers, one of 


After the Battle 

which belonged to the "Indefatigable** class. The first squadron 
proceeded on a N.W. course, and the others followed; the battle- 
cruisers, bringing up the rear, were disposed about 500 metres to 
port. Pushing forward at full speed, "U 65," at ao estimated range 
of 3,000 metres, fired four torpedoes at the leading battle-cruiser. 
The U-boat was half submerged, and the observers in the conning- 
tower. After a lapse of some three minutes, the time required by a 
torpedo to traverse a distance of 3,000 — ^4,000 metres, a column of 
fire, 20 metres wide and 40 metres high, rose behind the stern funnel 
of the last battleship and was visible for about a minute, while the 
funnel itself, white hot, was clearly discernible through the flames. 
At the same time there was a violent escape of steam. The fire lasted 
one minute. When the ship became visible again only the hull, 
without funnels or masts, was to be seen, whereas the silhouettes 
of the ships near by, with their funnels and masts, were clearly 
visible. This attack was made at 10.45 p.m., Lat. N. 55^ 25', Long. 
W. o^ 30'. The commander, the officer of the watch, and the U- 
boat pilot were all unanimous in their description of this pheno- 
menon. After this the U-boat had to submerge very deeply, as 
the Main Fleet was surrounded by a considerable number of 
destroyers (about forty). The only difference of opinion among the 
observers was as to whether the ship that had been hit was the last 
battleship of the 3rd- Squadron or the leading battle-cruiser. 

The disposition of our U-boats in a movable line had met with 
the desired success, and certainly was more advantageous than 
stationing them outside the enemy ports of issue, a proceeding 
which must be worthless if the ships were at sea beforehand. The 
U-boats also accomplished good service in scouting on this occasion, 
and the perseverance with which " U 53 " clung to the enemy was 
especially praiseworthy. Unhappily, her speed was not sufficient 
to enable her to follow the enemy all the time. 

The reports from the airships were not entirely reliable, chiefly 
because they were only eight in number and were expected to keep 
such a large area in view. Scouting by airships is, in any case, 
somewhat negative in character, since the fleet is only informed by 
them that the main hostile fleet is not within their field of vision, 
whereas the important thing is to know where it actually is. 

Although on this occasion the expected naval action with the 
enemy did not take place, and we had to content ourselves with 
the modest success of two small cruisers destroyed and one battle*' 
ship damaged, while on our side the Westfalen received injuries, 


Germany's High Sea Fleet 

yet we had conclusively shown the enemy that he must be on the 
watch for attacks by our Fleet. From English reports received sub- 
sequently we know that the British Admiral, when he ran up against 
our line of U-boats, felt as if he were in a hotbed of submarines 
and consequently quickly retired to the north. 

There was a possibility that we might have joined battle with 
the enemy fleet at 4 p.m., if the report of "L 13 " had not induced 
me to turn south with a view to attacking the ships sighted in that 
direction. The main object of our enterprise was to defeat portions 
of the English Fleet; the bombardment of Sunderland was only a 
secondary object, merely a means to this end. Therefore, when an 
opportunity seemed to offer to attack hostile craft in the south, I had 
to seize it and not let it slip. 

A similar enterprise was planned for the beginning of September. 
The disposition of the U-boats was again based on the idea of pro- 
tecting our flanks. But this time there was to be a modification, 
because with the single base-lines there was no guarantee that the 
U-boats on the line would be sure of a chance to open fire if the 
enemy should run into the line. The enemy's protective craft were 
in a position to prevent that U-boat which first sighted the enemy 
from attacking, and the other U-boats of the line would be too far 
away to take a hand. A new disposition was consequently made, 
in which only the enemy's probable direction of approach was taken 
into account; the U-boats covered a larger area, altogether 100 
nautical miles, and were placed in three rows, opposite the gaps 
between the leading craft. Unfortunately, we were prevented from 
carrying out this plan because unfavourable weather made scouting 

When, at the beginning of October, orders were given to carry 
out the same scheme, a new obstacle arose, owing to the issue of 
instructions from the Supreme War Council for an immediate re- 
sumption of the U-boat campaign against commerce. Lacking U- 
boats, I was forced to adopt quite a different scheme; instead of 
making for the English coast and luring the enemy on to our line 
of U-boats before the actual battle took place, I had to make a wide- 
spread advance with torpedo-boats to take stock of the commercial 
traffic in the North Sea and capture prizes. The Fleet was to serve 
as a support to the light craft that were sent out. As I was not in 
a position to reinforce the fighting power of the Fleet with U-boats, 
I had to try and choose the battle-ground so that we might join 
battle under the most favourable conditions to ourselves as possible. 


After the Battle 

Judging by the experience gained in the Battle of the Skagerrak, 
the position with regard to wind and sun must play an important 
part in the outcome of the artillery battle; again, the interval of 
time before darkness fell after the commencement of the battle was 
important, since the enemy had strong reserves at his disposal which, 
as yet untouched, could enter the fight when our ships were already 

The sinking of the Pommern had unfortunately proved that this 
class of ship could not be risked in heavy fighting, owing to their 
being insufficiently protected against the danger of being sunk. The 
tactics of the British made it unlikely that our Squadron II would be 
able to take part in another big battle, on account of its artillery and 
its old type of torpedo, which had a range of less than 6,000 metres. 
I did not, therefore, take these ships with me, but assigned to them 
the duty of guarding the German Bight in the absence of the Fleet. 
When the Fleet went out in this way, a torpedo flotilla was sent 
on ahead to the probable vicinity of the guard-line of English sub- 
marines, the object being to keep the latter under water and so 
prevent them from giving too early a warning of our approach. 

On October 10 the Fleet advanced according to this plan to the 
centre of the North Sea, but the torpedo-boats were unable to go 
as far afield as had been arranged, owing to adverse weather con- 
ditions. There was no encounter with the enemy. 

The resumption of the U-boat campaign against commerce, 
which was to begin early in October, had to be supported as far 
as possible, even though it was little to the taste of the Navy, 
and had also been adversely commented upon by Admiral von 
Schroder, the head of the Naval Corps in Flanders. 

After our sortie on October 19, two torpedo-boat Rotillas were 
sent to Flanders, and from that base they were to attack the guard- 
boats at the entrance to the Channel, so as to make it easier for our 
U-boats to get through. The First Leader of the Torpedo-Boats, 
Commodore Michelsen, was sent to Flanders for the same purpose, 
and to gather information about the local conditions there. On 
October 23, 1916, the Flotillas III and IV started for Zeebrugge, 
which they reached without incident before dawn on October 24. 
The carrying out of these voyages to and from Heligoland and 
Zeebrugge marks the change in the development of conditions 
between that time and October, 1914, when the seven half-flotillas 
were sent out from Ems and utterly destroyed. From now on, 
there was frequent traffic between these points, as the flotillas were 


Germany's HighlSea Fleet 

changed and new boats were sent to Flanders. As a rule the 
movements took place without incident, so that they came to be 
looked upon more and more as ordinary trips and not as risky 

On the night of October 26-27, the two flotillas, reinforced by 
the half-flotilla attached to the Naval Corps, carried out an 
attack on the ships guarding the entrance to the Channel and on the 
transports west of this line. According to previous observations, 
the boats on guard consisted of a few destroyers, but chiefly of 
small craft and trawlers, some of which had nets. These were 
always a very great hindrance to our U-boats when they wanted 
to get through, for they were forced to go under water and thus 
run the risk of getting entangled in the nets. An advance farther 
west beyond this line was an enterprise in which strong opposition 
was always to be expected. Even if our boats succeeded in reaching 
the line of guard-ships unnoticed, from the moment the Admiral in 
command at Dover heard of our approach, we had to reckon that 
in a short time strong forces would be assembled in the Straits 
between Dover and Calais. 

A glance at the map will show that vessels which penetrated 
farther west could be cut off from their base at Zeebrugge both 
from Dover and Dunkirk; so they could, if they went to the 
southern end of the Downs to attack the mouth of the Thames. 
For this reason the half-flotilla in Flanders was not strong enough 
to carry out such expeditions unaided. 

The following orders were issued relative to any ships that might 
be met with : 

Ships without lights crossing the Channel were to be regarded 
as military transports and torpedoed without warning; ships with 
prescribed lights were to be treated according to prize law, unless 
they were convoyed by warships or became involved in a fight 
by their own fault. 

Torpedo-Boat Flotillas III and IX and the Flanders Half- 
Flotilla set out at 6.30 p.m. from Zeebrugge; Commodore Michelsen 
was on board the leading boat of the Fifth Half-Flotilla. It 
was a clear starlit night, with a new moon. T^e surprise of 
the enemy was complete. The results we achieved were : eleven 
hostile guard and outpost ships sunk, and some other guard-ships 
badly damaged, from one of which ten men were taken prisoners. 
Besides this two enemy destroyers were sent to the bottom, and 
an English steamer, the Queen, was sunk, eight miles south 


After the Battle 

of Folkestone. This steamer, according to English information, 
was a transport, but she declared herself to be a packet-boat. She 
could make 25 knots. On our side we sustained no loss. The 
only damage done was to a torpedo-boat with which a rudderless 
and burning guard-ship collided while her engines were still running. 

As usual this surprise resulted in greater watchfulness on the 
part of the enemy. Commercial traffic eastward bound from the 
Channel was stopped, and aeroplane reconnaisance to observe move- 
ments in Zeebrugge harbour were considerably increased. When 
therefore in the afternoon of November i our boats intended to repeat 
the enterprise, everything pointed to the fact that the enemy was 
informed of our intentions, so that it was probable the blow would 
either miscarry or be turned into a reverse. Consequently when 
the flotillas had been at sea for some hours, and flash signals had 
shown that the enemy was on the watch, they were recalled. In 
these circumstances it was not desirable to keep the two flotillas 
any longer at Zeebrugge, especially as the nights were getting 
lighter and on that account unsuitable for such enterprises. Flotilla 
III was, therefore, sent back to Wilhelmshaven. Nevertheless, 
we decided to keep similar raids in mind, since the sudden appearance 
at considerable intervals of torpedo-boat flotillas in the Channel 
and near the south-eastern coast of England might bring about 
favourable results. 

One difficulty connected with the sending out of large numbers 
of torpedo-boats from Zeebrugge was, that in order not to expose 
them to aerial bombardment, they were not allowed to lie by the 
Mole, but sent up to Bruges. This entailed very considerable delay, 
on account of the lock, for it took 2% hours to get four torpedo- 
boats through. 

As soon as they left Bruges harbour it was not possible, as 
a rule, to conceal the movements of the boats from the enemy. 

The behaviour of the enemy after the battle of the Skagerrak 
showed clearly that he intended to rely entirely on economic pres- 
sure to secure our defeat and would continue to keep his fleet in 
the northern waters of the British Isles. Nothing but serious 
damage to his own economic life could force this opponent to 
yield, and it was from him that the chief power of resistance of 
the hostile coalition emanated. As English economic life depended 
on sea trade, the only means of getting at it was to overcome the 
Fleet, or get past it. The former meant the destruction of the 
Fleet, which, in view of our relative strength, was not possible. 


Germany's Hi^ Sea Fleet 

But so long as the Fleet was not destroyed, we could not wage 
cruiser warfare — ^which alone could have badly damaged British 
trade— on a large scale. The U-boats, however, could get past 
the Fleet. Free passage to the open sea had been gained for these 
in the naval action on May 31, for the English Fleet stayed far 
North and did not dare to attack our coast and stamp out the 
U-boat danger at its source. 

The recognition of this necessity to attack British trade as the 
only means of overcoming England, made it very clear how in- 
timate was the connection between the conduct of the war by 
land and by sea. 

The belief that we could defeat England by land had proved 
erroneous. We had to make up our minds to U-boat warfare as 
the only means we could employ that promised a measure of 
success. The ultimate decision was left to the Supreme Army 
Command, which was taken oyer on August 30, 1916, by Field- 
Marshal von Hindenburg. After the discussions with Roumania, 
however, it did not seem advisable to the Supreme Command to 
begin an unrestricted U-boat campaign at once, in view of the 
fact that no additional troops were available in the event of neutral 
nations, such as Holland and Denmark, joining the enemy. 

On October 7 the Fleet Commanders received the ordter to resume 
cruiser warfare with U-boats in British waters, and also to send 
four U-boats to the Mediterranean, where submarine warfare had 
been carried on during the summer months with quite good results. 
In September the Chief of the Naval Staff had been of opinion 
that the general situation would permit of the full development of 
the U-boat campaign at latest by the middle of October. I had 
counted on the co-operation of the U-boats with the Fleet up to that 

When, however, orders came through that the economic war 
against England was to be resumed in a modified form, although 
it was known that I considered the scheme to be useless, there was 
np chance of my opposition having the least effect in the face of 
this definite order, and in view of the fact that the Supreme Army 
Command considered it as a matter of principle. Unfortunately, 
I could adduce no great successes achieved by the Fleet in con- 
junction with the U-boats, and I could hardly take the responsi- 
bility of prolonging the immunity which Briti^ trade had enjoyed 
since the end of April. 

The support to be given by the Fleet to this form of warfare 


After the Battle 

became a question of increasing importance, as the enemy recog- 
nised the danger of the U-boats, and strained every nerve to get 
the better of it. A curious incident early in November emphasised 
the necessity for the co-operation of the Fleet in this phase of the 
war. On November 3 at 8 a.m. "U30," then on her way home 
and about 25 miles north-west of Udsire (an island oflF the south- 
west coast of Norway), reported that both her oil engines were 
not working. The question for the Fleet was,* how to get help to 
this boat so as to enable it to reach the Norwegian coast? A 
few hours later there was a report from "U 20," commanded by 
Lieutenant-Commander Schwieger, who was returning from a three 
weeks' long distance trip off the west coast of England, that he 
had hastened to the assistance of " U 30." The two boats then 
continued their journey in company, first to the latitude of Lindes- 
naes and then on November 3, at 10 p.m., they made for Bovsbjerg, 
on the coast of Jutland, where "U30" could be met by tugs. 
The charts of both boats, compared at frequent intervals, indicated 
that the next day at 10 P.M., they should be about 15 miles from 
Bovsbjerg. Towards 7 p.m. on November 4 a fog came up, and 
at 8.20 p.m. both boats ran aground. As appeared later, they lay 
5 sea miles north of Bovsbjerg ; they had steered considerably more 
to the east than, according to their observations, they thought they 
were doing,, and in the fog. they had not been able to see the land 
properly. After two hours "U 30" succeeded in getting clear 
by reducing her load by about 30 tons, but she was no longer 
able to submerge freely, and could not be steered under water. 
Her commander remained in the neighbourhood of " U 20." This 
boat, owing to the prevailing swell, had got on the farther side 
of a sandbank, and in spite of efforts continued throughout the 
night, was unable to get off. The Fleet received the news of 
their stranding soon after 10 p.m. Hostile patrols of cruisers and 
destroyers had repeatedly been reported in the neighbourhood of 
Bovsbjerg, so it seemed desirable to send a considerable protecting 
force with the light craft which were despatched thither. The Danes 
would certainly notice the stranded boats at dawn, and we might 
assume that the news would quickly find its way to England, 
and that in consequence enemy ships which happened to be near 
by would hasten to the spot. It was not to be supposed that the 
whole English Fleet would just happen to be at sea, but single 
groups might well be cruising in the neighbourhood. Assistance 
must, therefore, be as swift and as well protected as possible. The 


Germany's Hi^ Sea Fleet 

officer in command of the scouting craft received the order to 
send the Fourth Half-Flotilla of Torpedo-boats ahead immediately, 
and to cover them with the Moltke and Squadron III. If we did 
not succeed in getting "U 20" off quickly, it was to feared that 
the Danish Government would intervene and intern her. At 7.20 a.m. 
on November 4 Commander Dithmar arrived on the scene of the 
accident with the Fourth Half-Flotilla. The leading vessel anchored 
500 metres from "U 20." A strong swell was running from the 
south-west, which increased greatly in the course of the morning, 
dnd caused a ground swell on the sandbank. Three times attempts 
were made to tug the U-boat off, and each time the ropes and 
chains broke. "U 20," in spite of all efforts and favourable con- 
ditions — it was high tide at 11 a.m. — did not budge. She lay too 
high on the shore. As further efforts seemed hopeless she was blown 
up, her crew taken on board and the return journey was begun. 

The cruisers and Squadron III, in the meantime, had followed 
to the spot and patrolled near by until the attempts at rescue were 
abandoned. At 1.5 p.m. the Grosser Kurfiirst, and immediately 
afterwards the Kronprins, were each hit by a torpedo just as the 
squadron was executing a turning movement. Both torpedoes must 
have been fired by a submarine. The submarine itself was not 
sighted, owing to the waves ; the course of the torpedoes was not 
observed until it was too late to avoid them. The Grosser Kurfurst 
was hit in the steering gear and the helm on the port side rendered 
useless. The Kronfrinz was hit under the bridge and sustained 
only slight damage in her bunkers and gangway. The Grosser 
Kurfurst, which at first had to fall out because of her difficulty in 
steering, was able to follow the squadron later at 19 knots, and the 
Kronprinz was able to keep her place in the line, steaming at 17 

Upon receipt of the news of this incident, His Majesty the 
Emperor expressed the opinion that to risk a squadron for the sake 
of one U-boat, and in so doing almost lose two battleships, showed 
a lack of sense of proportion and must not occur again. Now this 
dictum might easily have imposed too great a restraint upon the 
Fleet merely for fear of submarines. We should have lost the con- 
fidence in our power to defend the Bight which we had gained as 
a result of the sea fight, and which became manifest when we sent 
these scouts 120 nautical miles from Heligoland, a distance which 
had hitherto been regarded as the ultimate limit to which our Fleet 
could advance. 


After the Battle 

On November 22 I received a summons to General Headquarters 
at Pless, and had the opportunity to submit my view of the case to 
His Majesty, to which he gave his concurrence. It was as follows : 

"In view of the uncertainty of naval warfare, it is not possible 
to determine beforehand whether the stakes risked are out of pro- 
portion or not. England, threatened anew by the U-boat campaign, 
as the increase in shipping losses in October clearly proved, is very 
anxious to allay popular anxiety on the score of this new danger. 
No better means to achieve this can be imagined than the news 
that they had succeeded in destroying a German U-boat close to 
the German coast. If, in addition to this, the number of the U-boat \ 
were ascertained — in this instance ' U 20,' which had sunk the 
Lusitania — ^this would indeed be glad tidings for the British Govern- 
ment. On the other hand, the dangers that threaten our U-boats 
on these expeditions are so great that they are justified in demand- 
ing the utmost possible support that our Fleet can give them in case 
of need. On no account must the feeling be engendered amongst 
the crews that they will be left to their fate if they get into difficul- 
ties. That would diminish their ardour for these enterprises on 
which alone the success of the U-boat campaign depends. Moreover, 
English torpedoes have never yet proved fatal to our big ships, a 
statement which was again confirmed in this case. 

"The temporary loss of the services of two ships while under 
repair is certainly a hindrance, since, for the time being, the Fleet 
cannot undertake any considerable expedition. But, on the other 
hand, incidents such as occurred on the occasion of the stranding of 
these boats afford the junior officers an opportunity to develop their 
independence. There is no doubt that in this case a few torpedo- 
boats would have sufficed to drag the stranded U-boats free and 
tow them home. But if they had been surprised by a larger force 
of English boats that happened to be passing, or had been notified 
of their whereabouts, then further losses were possible, and the 
expedition would nave failed in its aim. You can only make each 
expedition as strong as the means at your disposal at the moment 
permit. Fear of loss or damage must not lead us to curb the 
initiative in naval warfare, which so far has lain mainly in our 

"The bombardment of the enemy coast, airship attacks, the U- 
boat campaign, as well as the sea-fight itself, have shown that our 
Fleet has hitherto taken the offensive to a far greater extent than the 
English Fleet, which has had to content itself entirely with defensive 

^ 193 

Germany's High Sea Fleet 

action. Apart from a few unsuccessful aeroplane raids — ^the last was 
on October 21 of this year and made no impression — the English 
Fleet cannot boast of its achievements. The whole organisation for 
holding the Fleet in readiness is directed towards affording every 
enterprise the greatest possible security, and towards leaving out of 
account those ships which have come to port for necessary rest. It 
is of great value to uphold this principle, because in the course of the 
U-boat campaign, upon which, in my opinion, our entire naval 
strategy will sooner or later have to be concentrated, the Fleet will 
have to devote itself to one task — to get the U-boats safely out to sea 
and bring them safely home again. Such activities would be on pre- 
cisely the same lines as the expedition to salve * U 20.* To us 
every U-boat is of such importance, that it is worth risking the 
whole available Fleet to afford it assistance and support.'* 

While at Pless I took the opportunity of making myself known 
to Field-Marshal von Hindenburg, and also to have an interview 
with General Ludendorff. I discussed the U-boat campaign with 
both officers, and it was agreed that if the war should drag on for 
so long, February i, 19 17, was the latest date at which to start the 
unrestricted U-boat campaign, that is to say before England could 

The Field-Marshal, however, added that now that matters had 
taken such a favourable turn in Roumania, he could not for the 
moment face the possible complications that the declaration of un- 
restricted U-boat warfare might entail, although, at the same time, 
he was convinced that it was the right step to take. He went on to 
say that he had charged our ambassador at the Hague, Herr von 
Kiihlmann, on his honour, to give his candid opinion as to Holland's 
attitude, and had received a definite assurance that an aggravated 
form of the U-boat campaign would force Holland to come in 
against us. 

It was of great importance to me, to have found complete under- 
standing of the circumstances and conditions of our naval warfare 
at Headquarters, and to be assured that those in authority were 
determined not to let the suitable moment slip for the employment 
of all means that would lead to a speedy termination of the war. 

In order to resume cruiser raids on the open sea, the auxiliary 
cruisers Moewe and Wolf were sent out at the end of November, 
the former under the officer who had commanded her on her first 
cruise, the latter under Captain Nerger, and both reached the high 
seas without hindrance from the enemy. 


After the Battle 

The peace proposals of Germany and her Allies, made on Decem- 
ber 12, had little prospect of finding acceptance with our enemies; 
but the fact that they had been made would tend to simplify the 
situation and, in case of refusal, to rouse the will of the people to 
strain themselves to the uttermost for the final conflict. There was 
no hope of yielding on the part of those who had recently come 
into power in England — Lloyd George, with Carson as First Lord 
of the Admiralty. Thus the die was cast in our country for the 
employment of the most extreme measures, which it had been Beth- 
mann's policy hitherto to avoid. 

Towards the end of the year I regrouped the High Sea Fleet 
and took Squadron II out of the tactical group. One ship, the 
Lothringen, had already been put out of commission, and another 
ship of this same squadron was permanently needed to guard the 
Sound in the Baltic and had to be relieved from time to time. Thus 
for one reason and another (e.g. repair work) the squadron only 
consisted of five, or even fewer, ships. The fighting value of the 
ships had decreased with age, and to take them into battle could 
have meant nothing but the useless sacrifice of human life, as the 
loss of the Pommern had already proved. The creation of a new 
U-boat fleet demanded numerous, efficient young men, with special 
technical knowledge, and these could only be drawn from the Fleet. 
As Squadrons IV, V, and VI had already been disbanded for similar 
reasons, the reduction of Squadron II was only a question of a short 
time, as we were bound to have recourse to their crews. The U-boat 
flotilla had by this time a greater number of officers than all the large 
battleships of the Fleet. 

When the two new battleships, the Baden and Bayern (with 
38-cm. guns), joined up, it was possible to dispose the battleships 
in the High Sea Fleet in the following manner : 

Baden, Flagship of the Fleet. 

Squadron I— Vice- Admiral Ehrhardt Schmidtt. 

Osifriesland. Thiiringen, Heligoland. Oldenburg. 

Posen. Rheinland. Nassau. Westfalen. 

Squadron II— Vice- Admiral Behncke. 

Konig. Bayern. Grosser KurfUrst. Kronprinz. 



Germany's High Sea Fleet 

Squadron IV — Rear-Admiral Mauve. 

Friedrich der Grosse. Konig Albert. Kaiserin. 
Prinzregeni Luitpold. Kaiser. 

When in column formation, Squadrons III and IV formed a 
division and Squadron I was divided into two divisions. These 
three squadrons had their headquarters in the Jade. Squadron II 
lay in the Elbe when, as was often the case, it was not sent to the 
Baltic to provide target-ships for the torpedo-boat flotillas and 
U-boats which practised there, and to undertake manoeuvres in 
common with them. 

The chief duty at this time was to protect the Bight when the 
Fleet put to sea. During the winter the number of large battleships 
in the English Fleet had been materially increased, and by the spring 
of 191 7 we should have to reckon with 38 large battleships (of which 
14 had 38 cm. guns) and 10 battle-cruisers (of which 3 had 38 cm. 
guns). On our side we had 19 battleships (two with 38 cm. 
guns) and five battle-cruisers whose biggest guns were 30*5 cm. In 
place of the Lilizow, which had been lost, we had the Hindenburg. 
This relative strength indicated, from a tactical point of view, 
the desirability of our making as much use as possible of the advan- 
tages to be derived from the short days and long nights of winter. 
The long nights afforded our torpedo-boats good chances of success 
and prolonged the time during which our Fleet could approach 
unperceived. On the other hand, the short days had this advantage : 
that we could time a battle so that our munitions did not give out 
and so that the enemy could not bring up fresh reserves against our 
damaged ships. 

At the close of 19 16 the idea prevailed among the commanders 
of our Fleet, that England, anxious about her future, and pressed 
by her Allies, intended to develop greater activity at sea. The fall 
of the old Ministers, and the change in the command of the Grand 
Fleet might be looked upon as steps to prepare the way for this. 

It was decided that the U-boats were to carry on the campaign 
against commerce in accordance with Prize Law during the winter, 
and a number of these were detailed for special duty off the east 
coast of England. It was possible to connect these up with an 
advance of the Fleet, whenever a fair number of U-boats was ready 
to put to sea or had been at sea a short time. By the middle of 
January we had ten ready for this purpose, and they received orders, 


After the Battle 

in addition to their campaign against trade, to take up two lines 
south-west of the Dogger Bank on a certain date, when the Fleet 
was to undertake an advance to the west, south of the Dogger Bank. 
Support by the U-boats of the Naval Corps was arranged for in 
the usual way. The bad weather which prevailed in January pre- 
vented the realisaton of this scheme^ which was again to depend on 
airship scouting. 

As we had to reckon on the possible failure of airship scouting 
within the time available for such an enterprise — boiler-cleaning in 
the flotillas, repairs on the wharves and the preparedness of the 
U-boats also influenced our arrangements — ^another plan was drawn 
up. in which the weakness of airship scouting was not of such 
importance as to necessitate the abandonment of the enterprise on 
that account. This was not to be carried out until March, and was 
to take place during the light nights at the period of full moon — 
which would last until March 12. 

The idea was to make a raid into the Hoofden to interfere with 
the convoyed traffic between England and Holland — ^from Rotterdam 
to the Thames. In the meantime unrestricted U-boat warfare had 
commenced on February i, but our U-boats could nof get at this 
traffic very well. At night it was difficult for them to get an oppor- 
tunity to open fire, especially when the vessels were protected, and 
by day the shallowness of the water made submarine attacks im- 
practicable, especially if the accompanying ships used depth charges. 
As the crossing took so short a time, and moreover could be carried 
out by night, this traffic was exposed to no risks vorth speaking of 
and there was a noticeable increase on this route. 

Our boats were to advance to a line Schouwenbank — Galloper, 
make a night raid through the Hoofden, and then at 6 a.m. steam 
in a northerly direction to meet the Main Fleet which would follow 
them. The Main Fleet itself, consisting of Squadrons I, HI and IV, 
was to lie off Braune Bank at 6 a.m., and for that purpose would 
have to leave the Jade at 2.30 p.m. on the previous day. It was not 
expected that the enemy would notice our putting to sea in the after- 
noon before dusk. Success in this case depended entirely on sur- 
prise, for otherwise the steamers would simply postpone their 
journey. The raid by night through the Hoofden was designed to 
cover the whole area. 

The officer commanding the scouting craft had at his disposal 
Scouting Divisions I, II, and IV— with the exception of two 
small cruisers which had to remain as vanguard with the Main Fleet 


Germany's Highf Sea Fleet 

— ^and 22 torpedo-boats. In view of the large number of boats 
taking part, it was necessary to choose a light night for the enter- 
prise, so that the ships should not foul each other, and should be 
free to act so as to hold up the steamers. 

Though the heads of the Fleet enjoyed complete independence 
in organising and arranging their operations, they nevertheless had 
to inform the Naval Staff of them. This was imperative, if only 
because all information was collected and we might consequently 
receive valuable hints in good time. In this case it was especially 
important for us to know whether there was any news of the Anglo- 
Dutch traffic, and if so, what. The remark in my orders to the 
effect that the enterprise was to be carried out even if air-scouting 
were lacking gave rise to direct intervention on the part of the All 
Highest, who declared we were on no account to do without air- 

The stormy spring weather made it extremely doubtful whether 
we could carry out the plan under these conditions, and in fact, when 
the time fixed for the enterprise arrived, the weather was quite un- 
suitable for airships and thus the scheme collapsed. 

In a petition to the Kaiser, I clearly showed that from a military 
point of view my plan was practicable, and urgently requested him 
to withdraw his restriction, pointing out that such a restriction even 
in one direction only, would paralyse the power of a leader to carry 
out an enterprise which he had carefully planned, and which was 
well within the scope of the Fleet. The only reply I received was 
that the order had been issued after due consideration and must 
stand. I did not carry away the impression that when this decision 
was arrived at the Chief of the Naval Staff had presented the 
point of view of the Fleet with sufficient emphasis to dissipate the 
Supreme War Lord's fears — ^which was a pity. These fears were 
probably due to the idea that now that our ultimate success was 
entirely dependent on the results of the U-boat campaign, there must 
be no deviation from the course on which we had embarked, or any 
risk incurred which might force the Fleet to give up its support of the 
U-boats, before the goal had been reached. 

It must be admitted that in principle these considerations were 
sound, for events might occur — e.g. the loss of the U-Boat base in 
Flanders — which would confront the Fleet with tasks for which it 
would require all its strength. On the other hand, there was the 
consideration that every successful fight stimulates the confidence of 
those who take part in it. In a Fleet there are numbers of men 


After the Battle 

who, in a certain sense, are merely onlookers in a fight, who are 
unable to join in as individuals, as soldiers do on land, and thus 
develop each man's pride in having "done his bit." On the other 
hand, in a sea fight, perhaps to a greater extent than anywhere else, 
the intervention of an individual may have a decisive influence, if 
he has the presence of mind to ward off some great danger by re- 
solute and skilful action, and thereby save the whole ship and her 
crew and ensure victory for his side. 

So long as there is no actual fighting, these men, who take no 
immediate and active part, are very apt to criticise the initiative and 
resolution of the leaders of the Fleet and of individual ships. They 
want no cravens at their head, for they know that cowardice in their 
leaders may prove fatal to themselves and because each man feels 
in a measure responsible for the ship to which he belongs. When 
battle is once joined, ship against ship, each man's strength 
must be strained to the utmost, whether he be a member of 
a gun-crew or a stoker, a munition man or a man on look-out 
duty who gives timely warning of the course of a torpedo. Co- 
operation on the part of all these, of whom no single one can be 
dispensed with, is absolutely essential in an action if success is to 
be achieved. 

The Fleet had little rest in 191 7, even though the success of its 
activities was barely apparent. It found expression in the effect of 
the U-boat campaign, for the work of the Fleet was from that time 
onward chiefly directed to the support of the campaign. 

The U-boat could only prove effective against British trade if 
the boats succeeded in going to and fro unharmed between their base 
and their areas of activity. To achieve this, strong opposition on the 
part of the enemy in the North Sea had to be overcome. This oppo- 
sition was planned on a large scale. We know from Lord Jellicoe's 
own lips that at the beginning of 1917 he had ordered 100,000 mines 
to be placed round the Heligoland Bight, and we were very soon to 
feel the effect of this. The belt of mines which curved round from 
Terschelling to Horns Reef grew closer and closer. At the same 
time our mine-sweeping operations were subjected to closer scrutiny 
on the enemy's part, so that very often, by the sowing of fresh mines 
in the path we had cleared, the work of many days was undone in a 
single night. As the enemy laid his mines in concentric circles west 
of the line originally laid, the area over which our mine-sweepers 
had to work was constantly enlarged. Unhappily we never had the 
luck to catch the enemy mine-layers at their work, which they 


Germany's Hi^ Sea Fleet 

probably mostly undertook when darkness shielded them, at any rate 
when the mines were not laid by submarines. 

To explain what might appear to be crass incompetence on our 
part, we may remark that, so far as we Jcnow, the enemy's efforts in 
this direction met with little more success. I remember that on the 
return of one of our submarine mine-layers I was told that this 
boat had laid her two thousandth mine on this journey. How many 
difificulties she must have overcome before that work was achieved I 
The cruiser Hampshire, on which Lord Kitchener went down, was 
sent to sea in a heavy storm in the belief that in such weather little 
danger was to be apprehended west of the Orkneys from mines or 
U-boats; and yet one of our boats (Lieutenant-Commander Curt 
Beitzen) had been at work, and had made use of the opportunity 
provided by the bad weather to lay the mines to which this ship 
was to fall a victim. We, too, often noticed that after stormy days, 
when the mine-sweepers' work had to be interrupted, new mines had 
been laid in places which had been cleared just before the storm 

Another di£Sculty that our mine^layers had to contend with was 
that they had to lay their mines quite near the British coast or the 
entrance to ports, where closer watch was kept and defence was 
more effective than in the open North Sea. There, at a distance of 
lOO sea miles frcnn Heligoland, we had to keep watch on what was 
being done at night on the extreme edge of the wide curve which 
stretched from the East Frisian coast right up to Jutland. The great 
distance at which the mine-sweepers had to work made it necessary 
for us to send a strong protective force with them, for fear they 
should be surprised by a squadron of destroyers, which were greatly 
superior to them in armament and speed, and would make short 
work of them. A few attempts at catching them unawares had 
been made by the English, but these had been so half-hearted 
that our boats had got away with very slight damage and loss. 
After we had opened fire, the enemy ships soon gave up the 

We could, however, not rely on the mine-sweepers getting off 
so lightly on every occasion. The more the English felt the un- 
pleasant effects of the U-boat campaign, the more they would be 
likely to make great efforts to combat the U-boat danger in all its 
manifestations, wherever they had a chance. Only our light cruisers 
could afford effective protection to the mine-sweepers, because their 
guns were superior to those on the English destroyers. Just so 


After the Battle 

many torpedo-boats were assigned to them as appeared necessary 
for their protection from submarines. If we had had to protect the 
mine-<sweepers by torpedo-boats alone, we should have had to employ 
the latter in greater numbers than was compatible with their other 
duties. From the very beginning of the war the importance of the 
work of mine-sweepers was reo^nised, and much time and care were 
devoted to developing these flotillas and equipping them with 
increasingly better material. 

Instead of the old boats that had been turned out of the torpedo 
service, which found a place in our first mine-sweeper flotillas, and 
the trawlers which were used provisionally to assist in this work, 
new craft were built specially designed for mine-sweeping; more- 
over, they were built in such numbers that in the course of 191 7 
almost all the mine-sweeping divisions were provided with them. 
We also had large demands for similar craft from the Baltic, 
where they were needed to enable us to maintain commercial traffic, 
and the more so as the offensive activities of the Russians were 
entirely devoted to mine-laying operations. 

The development of seaplane activity in the North Sea afforded 
good support to the mine-sweepers. At the beginning of the war 
the number of really efficient seaplanes was so small as to be of 
no value, for the only seaplane station we then had at Heligoland 
boasted but five machines, to which after a time three more were 
added. Both pilots and observers had to be trained. Thanks to 
the energy of those at the head of the Air Service (Rear Admiral 
Philipp as Chief of the Naval Air Service and Captain Brehmer as 
officer commanding the North Sea Seaplane Division), this arm of 
the service developed tremendously and rendered us invaluable ser- 
vices as scouts, thereby relieving the fighting forces on the water 
of a great burden. 

Bases for seaplanes were constructed on the North Sea at List 
(Sylt), Heligoland, Nordemey, Borkum and, in addition to these, at 
Zeebrugge and Ostend. Further, the small cruiser Stuttgart was 
arranged as a seaplane carrier, after the necessary experiments had 
been made on the auxiliary cruiser Santa Elena, and when, as the 
flying machines were perfected, it seemed desirable not to confine 
their activities to the coast of the North Sea, but to make use of them 
at sea as well. This development of flying became necessary, 
and was encouraged by the urgent need of the mine-sweeping 

Thus the requirements of the U-boat campaign demanded many- 


Germany's High Sea Fleet 

sided service from the Fleet; this applied more particularly to officers 
and men, for in addition to the existing Navy a second one had to be 
created for submarine warfare, one which had to be developed out 
of the old Navy sailing on the water, and which was dependent on 
it in every respect, although it represented an absolutely new 




ON the outbreak of war the Navy had at its disposal only three 
airships, "L3," "L4" and "L5," of 15,000 cb.m. capacity. 
The last Zeppelin built during the war bore the number "L 71," and 
its capacity was 62,000 cb.m. These figures express the gigantic 
development which the airships underwent. The airships placed 
at the service of the Fleet were almost all of the Zeppelin type. 
The firm of Schiitt-Lanz built a few ships as well, which at first 
were only used experimentally, but subsequently were put to prac- 
tical use. 

Probably no arm of any service has suflFered such severe losses 
as our airships, with the exception of the U-boats. Out of 61 
Zeppelins which were assigned to the Fleet in the course of the war, 
17, with their whole crews, were destroyed by the enemy, namely 
"L " 7, 10, 19, 21, 22, 23, 31, 32, 34, 39, 43, 44, 48, 53, 59, 62 and 70. 

Twenty-eight airships were lost through stranding and other 
accidents, such as the burning of sheds in consequence of explosion. 
The crews of these were all saved, though in six instances they were 
made prisoner. Six ships had to be placed out of service as being 
useless; at the end, ten were still left in a condition fit for use. 

Owing to the ever-increasing defensive measures of the enemy 
the airships at the front were built in two sizes, the types being 
"L 50" and "L 70." 

The chief distinctive features of the former were five motors, 
each of 260 h.p., and such as could develop sufficient speed even in 
the highly rarefied atmosphere of the upper strata of the air; four 
propellers, all coupled directly to the shafts (the two rear motors 
are coupled to one propeller); a central gangway, 196.5 m. long; 
a breadth of 239 m. ; a gas capacity of 55,000 cb.m. ; a speed of 
30 metres per second (about no km. per hour); a load of 38 tons. 

Type "L 70 " : Seven motors, each of 260 h.p. ; six propellers; 
central gangway, 21 1.5 m. ; greatest diameter, 239 m.; volume of 
gas, 62,000 cb.m. ; speed, 35 metres per second (equal to 130 km. 
per hour) ; load, 43 tons. 

The "L 50 " carried a crew of 21, and "L 70 " one of 25, among 


Germany's High Sea Fleet 

whom were i Commander, i OflBcer of the Watch, i Quarter-Master, 
I Chief Artificer-Engineer, 2 men for lifting gear (Yeomen of 
Signals,) 2 men for the balancing gear (Boatswains), 2 Motormen 
(stoker petty ofiicers) for each motor, i Sailmaker, i Petty Officer 
Telegraphist, and i Ordinary Telegraphist for the wireless 

They carried two machine-guns, and later on a 2-cm. gun as 
well. The supply of bombs consisted of incendiary bombs of 11. 4 
kilo weight, and explosive bombs of 50, 100, and 300 kilos. 

In order to gain some idea of the difficulties encountered by 
airships, it may not be out of place to make a few general remarks 
on the navigation of these ships. 

Their main task was scouting. That is why they were retained 
during the war as a weapon by the Navy; the Army had no use 
for them. The development of the aeroplane produced a keen com- 
petitor and a dangerous opponent. The Flying Service could not, 
at first, overcome the difficulty of covering the g^eat distances which 
scouting at sea entailed. It was a question of flying over large 
sea areas, such as the North Sea, and providing the Fleet with trust- 
worthy information and reports. Flights of twenty-four hours and 
longer had to be reckoned with, and no flying-man could hold out 
for so long. 

The great load that the airship could carry, combined with its 
high speed, made it especially suitable for purposes of attack. The 
dangers to which the airship itself was exposed were best overcome 
by assigning to the crews some definite task for furthering the war, 
for which they gladly risked their lives. Any activity which did 
not bring them into contact with the enemy would not have satisfied 
them for so long a period as the duration of the war, and this would 
have hindered the development of this arm of the service. 

When navigating on the water you steer for a goal which lies in 
a horizontal plane, on the surface of the water; the airship has to 
negotiate a second dimension due to differences in height. And 
this it is which presents such great difficulties in aerial navigation. 
In contradistinction to the aeroplane, the load, including its own 
weight, carried by an airship is not borne by motor power, dynamic 
lifting power, but by gas-tight cells filled with a gas lighter than 

Hydrogen of specific gravity 0.07, which was used for filling, 
gave a ship of 55,000 cub.m. capacity a lifting power of 64,000 kilos. 
Of these, 26,000 kilos, in round numbers, were taken up by the 


Airship Attacks 

weight of the unloaded airship itself, so that the load she could 
carry would be 38,000 kilos, i.e. 38,000 kilos can be packed into 
the ship before she will float in the air, being neither heavier nor 
lighter than air. The weight of the crew, stores of benzine and oil, 
spare parts, supplies of oxygen for the passage through high alti- 
tudes, and bombs amounted to about 10,000 kilos; the remainder, 
about 26,000 kilos, is available for water ballast. This is most 
essential in order ito neutralise such influences as affect unfavourably 
the carrying power of the ship. At first, when ascending, the 
upward pressure of the atmosphere ceases; the gas pressure in 
the cells becomes proportionately greater. In order to equalise the 
pressure, every gas-cell is provided with a safety-valve through 
which the superfluous gas escapes; in this event, carrying power 
is consequently diminished; the ship becomes too heavy. To 
remedy this, a proportionate weight of water must be thrown out, 
so that the ship recovers her equilibrium. As a standard of measure- 
ment, we may state that for every 100 m. that she rises the ship 
loses I per cent, of her carrying power, that is 640 kilos. 

Temperature, both of the air and the gas, also exerts an influ- 
ence. Cold air is heavier than warm, whereas the lifting power 
of the gas, on the contrary, is increased by warmth and diminished 
by cold. In this respect the following law obtains : a change of one 
degree in the temperature increases or diminishes the carrying power 
by about 240 kilos. The commander must, therefore, constantly 
keep an eye on the temperature and judge by the changes what the 
behaviour of his ship is likely to be. 

The weight is also affected by the amount of moisture that collects 
on the ship's envelope when passing through clouds ; ice is also easily 
formed if the temperature becomes sufficiently low. The additional 
weight on the ship due to rain may amount to 39OOO kilos, and 
owing to ice as much as 5 — 6,000 kilos. The heat of the sun's rays 
and the strong draught caused by rapid progress soon make the 
deposit due to rain disappear. Ice has the further disadvantage that 
pieces of it may be hurled through the envelope by the revolving 
propellers and may possibly pierce the cells so that gas escapes. 

Further, since hydrogen is highly explosive, and when mixed 
in certain proportions with air becomes very dangerous, care must 
be taken to prevent fire or electric sparks from coming into contact 
with escaping gas. But the gas escapes of its own accord when the 
cells are deflated — ^when in rising the limit of elasticity of the cells 
is reached, and when the cells are injured, either by pieces of 


Germany's High Sea Fleet 

ice or by hostile projectiles. If the hostile missiles generate flames, 
as incendiary weapons do, then the ship is inevitably destroyed. 

Care is needed, too, in thunderstorms. It is best to avoid clouds 
charged with electricity. If you cannot go round them you should 
go under or over them. When rising to get over them, in no circum- 
stances must you rise to such a height that the gas completely fills 
the cells, for owing to the diminished pressure of the air the super- 
fluous gas is bound to escape and a flash of lightning striking this 
gas mixture will immediately destroy the ship by fire. There is 
no danger if the ship is struck by lightning if no gas is escaping, 
so long as the framework is intact. The framework of aluminium 
is connected throughout the ship, and acts as a conductor for light- 
ning, which passes out by the stern. Instances in which this has 
happened have been quite frequent; but such experiences, of course, 
are better avoided if it is possible to do so. 

As regards the height at which the gas completely fills the cells, 
the following should be noted : When a ship has risen above this 
height and has let off gas and then descended again, the remaining 
gas is insufficient to fill the cells completely ; it only fills the upper 
part of them, while the lower part remains empty. The ship is 
then no longer buoyant. The higher the ship has risen, the less 
gas the cells contain upon descent; it is forced to come down to 
earth. In this case more water-ballast must be discharged. The water 
is distributed in bilUast-bags along the entire length of the ship. 
The valves of these bags are connected by wires with the steering 
car. Every bag holds i ,000 kilos. The commander is in a position 
to release any quantity of water desired,* from whatever part of the 
ship he thinks proper. Fore and aft of the ship there are another 
four bags each containing 250 kilos, which can also be opened 
from the steering car. These differ from the others in that when 
opened they discharge their contents instantaneously, whereas the 
others let the water run out slowly. When the ship needs to be 
lightened suddenly, the containers fore and aft are used, e.g. for 
a sharp rise when attacked by aeroplanes, or when a cell has been 
emptied owing to damage by a missile or some other accident, and 
one end of the ship suddenly becomes heavy ; and also when land- 
ing with a "heavy " ship. 

Below the ship and at the sides the cars are hung. The fore- 
most and largest of these contains the steering-gear in front, next 
to that the- wireless installation, and at the rear a motor. The last 
car, which hangs on the central line of the ship, carries two motors 


Airship Attacks 

ipvhich both connect with one propeller. The cars at the side each 
carry one motor. 

As soon as there are no guiding objects in sight, such as land, 
lightships, or one's own warships, by which the ship's position 
may be ascertained, navigation becomes very difficult, because of 
the leeway when the wind blows at an angle to the course of the 
ship. That is where wireless telegraphy comes in ; the installation 
is such that the ships can be called up by directing stations, their 
Avhereabouts calculated, and their position reported to them by 

The airship stations were so placed that they lay as near as possible 
to the coast, and had a sufficient extent of level ground for ascend- 
ing and landing; but they had to be placed sufficiently inland to 
obviate the danger of an unexpected attack from the sea. The 
Navy possessed the following airship stations on the coast of the 
North Sea: Nordholz near Cuxhaven, Ahlhorn near Oldenburg, 
Wittmundshaven (East Friesland), Tondern (Schleswig-Holstein). 
Hage, south of Norderney, was abandoned. 

The ideal airship hangar is a revolving shed which can be 
turned according to the direction of the wind. Unfortunately, we 
possessed only one such shed, that of Nordholz, as it involves a 
great deal of time and uncommonly large expense to build them. 
The problem of building material had also to be faced in the course 
of the war. Most of the sheds were placed in a position suitable to 
the prevailing wind in the neighbourhood. It is not possible to 
1 take an airship into or out of a shed if the wind blows across its 
r path at a speed of more than 8 metres per second. 
I This consideration, and the fact that airship attacks had to be 
I made during the time of the new moon, occasioned the long pauses 
\ between the raids, pauses which often gave rise to the impression 
I that other influences had led to the abandonment of these activities. 
f This was not so. From the date of the first airship raid on England, 
in January 15, 1915, no regulations were made limiting the offensive 
fiction of the airships. So far as London was concerned, we had 
rders at first only to attack such establishments as were immediately 
^-onnected with military work, such as arsenals, docks, batteries 
] 9nd so forth. But this limitation could not be adhered to in the 
Jong run, partly because of the difficulty of discovering these par- 
ticular places, partly because just round London the defences 
/ere especially intense. But it never was the object of an airship 
to attack defenceless dwelling-places. Their aim always was 
y 207 


' Germany's High Sea Fleet 


^ to destroy those establishments which, either directly or indirectly 

served some military purpose : munition factories, arsenals,, stores 

docks, wharves, etc. Airships frequently returned from their expe 

ditions with their full complement of bombs, because they had no 

I been able to make out such targets with sufficient certainty. I 

' would have been easy enough for them before returning to ge 

rid of their bombs and drop them on any place over which the] 
happened to fly, if they had wanted to kill harmless citizens. 

Once the airship was in the air there were no further difficulties 
except such as arose from thunderstorms or very high winds ; jus 
as at sea, very bad weather hinders and circumscribes the activitie* 
of ships. The revolving shed is a factor of the utmost importance 
for the future of the airship. 

While the U-boats were at full swing at their work of destroying 
English commerce, the airships with dogged perseverance did theii 
best to contrive their attacks on the island. In March, 1917, a raid 
was made by five airships. Two of them reached London. In 
consequence of a considerable freshening of the wind, the return 
journey became very difficult. "L 2 " was forced to descend in 
Juteborg, "L 35 " in Dresden, "L 40 " and "L 41 " came down to 
their shed at Ahlhorn. "L 39 " (Commander, Lieutenant-Commander 
Rob. Koch) was driven by the storm to the south-west, passed over 
the enemy lines in France, and, according to a wireless message from 
the Eiffel Tower, was shot down at Compi^ne. Her crew perished 
in the flames. 

A raid which was started in April had to be abandoned because 
on the outward journey the weather became unfavourable. 

May again presented an opportunity for a successful raid which 
took place in the night of May 23 — 24. The following took part in 

it: "L40,""L42,""L43,""L44"and"L45." Captain Strasser, 
the Head of the Airship Service, was on board the "L44." The 
officer commanding the airships made the following report : 


"Towards 145 a.m. we crossed the coast near Harwich; cloud 

sky with breaks in it. A number of searchlights tried in vain to pic 
up the ship. Very little gunfire; no aeroplanes. In consequence < 
three motors missing simultaneously, did not carry out attack c 
London, as ship lost height rapidly, but dropped bombs to amour 
of 2,000 kilos on Harwich. Shortly after attack all engines begai . 
to miss, ship travelled like a balloon for three-quarters of an hou 
over enemy country and fell from 5,700 m* to 3,900 m. After thi 


Airship Attacks 

till 10 A.M. travelled with one motor only going, from lo a.m, with 
K^tly, 2-3 motors; landed at Nordholz 7.20 p.m. ' L 43 * had to pass 
Lores, through severe thunderstorms with extraordinarily heavy hail- 
expe- showers on return journey. Lightning struck ship in forepart and 
d not ran along the framework without doing any damage." 

r. It 

> get The next attack was on June 17. "L42," "L43," "L44" and 

they "L45" took part in it. The raid on London was again prevented 

owing to the shortness of the night, because detours had to be made 

ulties to avoid several thunderstorms. "L42" could not reach London, 

just and at 3 a.m. expended her entire ammunition on Dover. There 

vities was severe gun-fire during the attack, but the searchlights could not 

tance hold the ship for long owing to heavy mist. The bombs fell on 

their targets. Violent explosions at intervals of 10 minutes followed 

)ying one detonation ; whole districts of houses seemed to be hurled into 

ijieir the air; fires could be observed for a long time afterwards. Shortly 

^ faid ^ter the raid the ship was pursued and violently bombarded by 

In light craft, apparently torpedo-boats or small cruisers, 
eturn From *• L 42 " it was observed that one of our ships was being 
id in attacked by an airman. The airship was at a height of 4,500—5,000 
^.^ to nietres, with the airman 300 — 500 metres above her. As " L 43 " 
ander (Lieutenant-Commander Kraushaar) did not return from this jour- 
over ^^Yf w® '^^^^ forced to assume that the airman had destroyed her. 
fj.Qjn Later reports from England confirmed this. 

ished ^" August 30 the Ordre pour le Merite was conferred on Captain 

Strasser. I took the opportunity of handing him this distinction 

ause personally, and for that purpose went to the airship station at 

Ahlhorn, 20 km. south of Oldenburg, which had been erected during 

hich ^^^ "^^^ ^^^ ^^^ ^^^ ^^® chief base of the airships. 

' jp It is to Captain Strasser*s credit that he developed Count 

Zeppelin's invention to military perfection, and made the airship 

The ^ ^^apon of great efiiciency, besides rousing the enthusiasm of the 

crews of the airships by his example. He was the life and soul 

of the whole and made everyone under his command share his 

• conviction that airships had a great future before them. He was 

^". I particularly gifted in estimating meteorological conditions. He had 

P*^^ an almost prophetic instinct for the weather. How often we have 

^ ^r had to apologise mentally to him, when in apparently favourable 

1^ *-* weather the airships did not go out; for he was always right, and 

o^^ shortly afterwards there was invariably a change in the weather 

eg^* which would have endangered the ships and made their return im- 

Germany's High Sea Fleet 

possible. But he recognised no such thing as insurmountable diffi- 
culties; the stronger the enemy's defence grew, the more energetic- 
ally did he concentrate on counter-measures. Thus he sent his ships 
up higher and higher, and ultimately they worked at an altitude of 
6,000 metres — a. height which was considered impossible at the 
beginning of the war. For this he needed elbow-room and sym- 
pathetic co-operation in his technical suggestions. His organisation 
of the airship service did not immediately place him in such a 
position as to get his demands satisfied quickly enough. Moreover, 
he was hampered by all sorts of difficulties connected with technical 
administration. Those in command of the Fleet, however, did not 
rest until the organisation had been changed so that he could have 
free play in the conduct and development of the airship service. 

Captain Strasser took part in most of the airship raids, although 
permission was often given him very grudgingly. The loss of air- 
ships was so considerable that I was always afraid that one of these 
days he would not come back, and he was too valuable to the airship 
service for such a risk. But just because the difficulties always grew, 
I had to admit that he was right in considering it necessary to see 
for himself what conditions were like on the other side, so as to 
judge what he could demand of his crews and how he could improve 
the efficiency of the ships. 

An attack in October, 1917, brought about the loss of five air- 
ships out of the eleven which set out. This was due to such a 
strong head wind setting in that four ships were blown far over 
into France, and one, though it reached Middle Germany, was lost 
in landing. The six others, thanks to their timely recognition of 
the change in the weather conditions, came home safely. The In- 
dividual ships had more than the usual difficulty in determining their 
positions, because the angles from the directing stations became 
very steep when the ships were over the South of England, 
and consequently the calculation of their positions was less 

Another very painful set-back for navigation by airships occurred 
in January, 1918, when owing to the spontaneous combustion of one 
of the airships in Ahlhorn, the fire spread by explosion to thc^ 
remaining sheds, so that four Zeppelins and one Schiitt-Lanz 
machine w^ere destroyed. All the sheds, too, with one exception, 
were rendered useless. 

After this the Fleet had, for the time being, only g airships at 
its disposal. From the autumn of 19 17 onwards, the building of 


Airship Attacks 

airships had been restricted, because the material necessary for the 
building of aircraft was needed for aeroplanes for the army. From 
that date only one ship was placed on order every month. But even 
this did not prevent us from repeating our attacks on England from 
time to time, though we had to be careful to incur no further losses, 
so as not to be without airships for scouting which was so 
important for the other activities of the Fleet. 

On August 5, 1918, the airships of the Navy attacked England 
for the last time. Captain Strasser was on board the "L70," the 
latest ship, commanded by Lieutenant-Commander von Lotznitzer. 
He did not return from this journey ; his ship was the only one of 
those that took part in the raid that was shot down over England. 
Thus this leader followed his comrades who had preceded him and to 
whom he had always given a glowing example. 

The value of airships as a weapon has been much called into 

In the beginning of the war, when seaplane-flying was quite 
undeveloped, they were indispensable to us. Their wide field of 
vision, their high speed, and their great reliability when compared 
with the possibilities of scouting by war-ships, enabled the airships 
to lend us the greatest assistance. But only in fine weather. So the 
Fleet had to make its activities dependent on those of the airships, 
or do without them. 

A weakish fleet needs scouts to push as far in advance as pos- 
sible ; scouts, too, which can make observations without being driven 
off. The airships could do this. The danger from aeroplanes only 
arose later, and was never very serious at sea ; but over the land it 
was extremely unpleasant. Although as a rule an airship can mount 
more quickly than an aeroplane, yet it has far less chance of hitting 
its opponent. Ultimately the airships were forced up so high that 
it was beyond the power of human endurance (altitudes of more 
than 6,000 m.). That meant the end of their activities as an attack- 
ing force. But for far-reaching scouting they retained their im- 
portance and their superiority to other aircraft, for they can remain 
in the air much longer and are independent of assistance from other 
ships. But the bigger they grew the rarer grew the opportunities 
for them to go on expeditions, because of the difficulties of getting 
them out of the sheds, and later on of their landing. 

We have no reliable information as to the results of their attacks. 
They were the first war-engines which scared the English out of 
their feeling of security on their island, and they forced them to 


Germany's High Sea Fleet 

organise a strong defence. To judge by this, their visits must 
have been regarded as a very considerable menace. 

It was our business to make as much use as possible of our 
superiority in airships, and to increase their efficiency so that fear 
of them might be a contributory cause in inducing England to make 
peace possible. 

Such an ideal of perfection can only be attained if it is persever- 
ingly sought in spite of the set-backs we endured, and although the 
opposition we had to overcome was increasingly great. 

That is the right warlike spirit — not to give in, but to redouble 
one's efforts as our airship men did in an exemplary way. 

We may probably look upon the military career of the airship 
as over and done with. But the technical side of airship navigation 
has been developed in such a high degree by our experience in war, 
that airship traffic in peace times will derive great advantages from 
it, and the invention of Count Zeppelin will be preserved as a step 
in the progress of civilisation. 


The U-Boat Campaign 



OUR fleet was built for the protection of German interests at sea; 
its object was quite definitely a defensive one. This was proved 
in its construction; its main strength consisted in battleships and 
torpedo-boats which were meant exclusively for naval battles. There 
were so few cruisers that they barely sufficed to scout for a fleet on 
the move. Both in numbers and in construction they were unfitted 
to threaten the trade of the enemy; they could not touch English 
world-trade, because the British Isles formed a barrier in the North 
Sea. We had no naval bases abroad. Thanks to English policy, 
in this war a hostile fleet ran little risk in attacking ours, though 
it was built as a defence against such attacks. England had secured 
the co-operation of the next strongest land and sea Powers, and could 
count on the benevolent neutrality of the United States of America, 
until they, top, sided with our enemies. Nevertheless, England 
forbore to risk her superior fleet in battle, and her naval policy in 
the war was confined to this : to cut Germany off from all sup- 
plies by sea, and to starve her out by withholding food and raw 

On October 2, 1914, the British Admiralty published a warning 
that it had become necessary to lay a large minefield at the entrance 
of the Channel into the North Sea; this was 1,365 square sea- 
miles in extent. It left free a narrow channel near the English coast, 
which was only passable within British territorial waters. On 
November 2, 1914, the whole of the North Sea was declared to be 
in the War Zone. Any ships which crossed it other than by routes 
prescribed by the British Admiralty would do so at their own peril, 
and would be exposed to great danger from the mines laid in these 
parts and from warships which would search for suspicious craft 
with the greatest vigilance. This was the declaration made by 
the British Government. The provisions of the Declaration of 
London of 1909 had not been ratified by England at the time, and 
she therefore did not consider herself bound by any international 
laws which would have made it possible to get articles of trade 


Germany's High Sea Fleet 

through neutral countries into blockaded Germany. The result 
of the measures adopted by the British Government were as follows : 

1. All import trade into Germany both by land and sea was 
strangled, and in particular the importation of food was made im- 
possible, because the distinction between absolute and relative con- 
traband was done away with. Even the importation of goods that 
were not contraband was prevented, by taking them off the ships on 
the plea that contraband might be hidden in them; then when 
they were landed, either they were requisitioned or detained on the 
strength of some prohibition of export so that they had to be 

2. The neutral states in order to obtain any oversea imports for 
themselves were forced by England'^s demands to forbid almost 
all export of goods to Germany. The British Government even 
demanded the cessation of trade in free goods and their own produce 
between these countries and Germany, threatening to treat the neutral 
country as an enemy if these demands were not complied with. 

3. In neutral countries, especially in the United States of 
America, whole industries were forced to stop all trade with Germany. 
In addition to this, the neutral countries of Europe were compelled 
to set up organisations which controlled all the trade of the country, 
and thereby placed it under the control of England. Persons and 
firms who did not comply with the regulations were cut off from 
sea trade, because all cargoes addressed to them were detained under 
suspicion of being destined for the enemy. 

4. Free trading of neutral merchant vessels on the North Sea 
was made impossible when that was declared to be in the War Zone, 
because every ship that did not follow the instructions of this 
declaration was exposed to the risk of destruction. In this way all 
shipping was forced to pass through English waters and so to submit 
to English control. Winston Churchill, at that time First Lord of 
the Admiralty, openly expressed the aim of the British Government 
in his speech at the Guildhall on November 9, 1914. He said the 
British people had taken as their motto, "Business as usual during 
alterations in the map of Europe,'' and they expected the Fleet, on 
which they had spent so much care and money, to make it possible 
for them to adhere to this motto, and the Fleet was at the moment 
about to do so. It was very difficult at the beginning of war to 
estimate the full effect erf the pressure exerted by sea power. The 


The U-Boat Campaign 

loss suffered was obvious and easily computed ; the loss they inflicted 
was often invisible, or if it was visible its extent could not be deter- 
mined. The economic stringency of the blockade required time to 
attain its full effect. They saw it then only in the third month. 
They must have patience and consider it in the sixth, the ninth, the 
twelfth months; then they would see the success which would be 
achieved gradually and silently, which meant the ruin of Germany 
as surely as the approach of winter meant the fall of the leaves from 
the trees. 

The attitude of the English Fleet was absolutely in keeping with 
this declaration. They avoided battle or any attempt to destroy the 
German Fleet. Thlsy thought they could force Germany's submis- 
sion without any fear that the English Fleet might forfeit its 
superiority to the other fleets of the world. Their strategy also gave 
their fleet certain tactical advantages if we should seek to join battle 
in those waters which it had selected for its stand. From this posi- 
tion the English Fleet was enabled to carry out the system they had 
planned of watching the approaches to the North Sea and the routes 
which lead to Scandinavia, and at the same time most effectively to 
protect this system from German attacks emanating from the Bight. 

The English plan, however, was based on the further assumption 
that the Fleet would be able effectually to protect English trade. They 
probably counted upon the life of our cruisers in foreign waters being 
a short one, and reckoned that only in exceptional cases auxiliary 
cruisers would evade the watch in the North Sea and get out. These 
might temporarily disturb trade, but could never have any decisive 
effect. The English were not mistaken in this assumption ; and in 
their certainty of controlling the seas, without any regard to the rights 
of neutral countries from whom they were not likely to meet with 
serious opposition, they took such measures as were best adapted to 
cut off Germany. fWhen they declared the War Zone they dropped ] 
the old idea of a olockade, because mines and submarines made it i 
impossible to carry out a regular blockade effectively .\ So far as 
the Englishman was concerned, that was the end of the blockade, 
and he proceeded to introduce an innovation which, to his idea, 
was suited to the times, and therefore justified; nor did he trouble 
in the least about the protest of neutrals. 

To English ideas it is self-understood that naval warfare is 
directed towards the destruction of enemy trade, and equally so that 
all means that can promote this end are right. Their practicability 



Germany's High Sea Fleet 

' was founded on the might of the English Fleet, from which neutral 
protests rebounded unheeded. This war has made it clear that the 
neutrals were mistaken when they thought that they could demand of 
that great Sea Power, England, the same rights that she had secured 
by treaties when she herself had been neutral. These rights of 
neutrals are nothing but pretensions which a mighty Sea Power would 
like to turn to its own advantage if on some occasion it should not 
be one of the belligerents and should wish to carry on its trade 
regardless of whether one of the parties at war should suffer thereby 
or not. 

This was typical of the relations between us and America. Of 
course, the semblance of right must be maintained, and for that 
purpose any catchword which happens to appeal most to the people 
is made use of. 

In this war it was the "dictates of humanity " which had to bolster 
up American trade interests. No State, not even America, thought 
it against the dictates of humanity to build submarines for war pur- 
poses, whose task it should be unexpectedly to attack warships and 
sink them with all on board. Does it really make any difference, 
purely from the humane point of view, whether those thousands 
of men who drown wear naval uniforms or belong to a merchant ship 
bringing food and munitions to the enemy, thus prolonging the war 
and augmenting the number of women and children who suffer 
during, the war? 

What England considered to be maritime law is most clearly 
seen by the layman in her attitude towards the Declaration of 
London. On the invitation of the British Government there was 
a conference in connection with the Second Hague Peace Conference 
in 1909 by which a number of rules were drawn up, the signatory 
Powers — amongst, them England, France, Russia, the United 
States, Germany and others — ''had agreed in the statement that 
the rules drawn up in the Declaration were in all essentials in con^ 
formity with the generally accepted principles of International Law." 
England had not ratified this treaty owing to the veto of the House 
of Lords because it did not take British interests sufficiently into 
consideration. She therefore had the formal right not to abide by 
these rules, but at the same time she ran counter to the principles 
of International Law recognised by every State. On August 20, 
1914, the British Government announced that it had decided to 
accept the Declaration of London in general, but with certain changes 
and additions that it considered absolutely imperative in order to be 


The U-Boat Campaign 

able to carry out operations at sea effectively. Here with touching 
ingenuousness it is stated that the Englishman considers himself 
bound by law only in so far as it does not hinder his operations, 
and that he will allow himself such deviations as will ensure the 
eflFective execution of his plans. That meant that he contravened 
I he right of neutrals to send any goods to Germany and put obstacles 
in the way of such trade by every means in his power. The Neutral 
States even had to give an undertaking to consume all food received 
from overseas in their own countries and not to make use of foreign 
imports to set free a like quantity of home-grown food for transport 
into Germany. Anyone who wished to defend himself by means 
of remonstrances or protests in law was foredoomed to defeat owing 
to this brutal p&iicy of might; but unfortunately this was the form 
our own policy had taken. 

Moreover, we looked in vain for sympathy from the neutrals. 
America declared that if England ignored International Law that 
did not give us the right to pursue a course contrary to International 
Law to which America would be expected to submit. On the con- 
trary, she demanded for her citizens the right to travel an3rwhere 
bv sea unmolested. If we did not refrain from the counter-measures 
we had announced, which she considered contrary to the dictates 
of humanity, she would hold us responsible. Such a peremptory 
tone was not employed towards England. And why should it have 
been ? The Englishman was only too glad of the visits of American 
ships, for they brought him everything that he badly needed. No 
disturbance of trade was to be expected from him, for he would have 
thereby injured his own interests and could, therefore, never be in 
the awkward position of running counter to the dictates of humanity 
as understood by America. How the efforts of Americans to tighten 
the screw of hunger on our people could be reconciled with humanity 
is a question that can only be explained by the peculiar maxim of 
the Anglo-Saxons that "business " has nothing to do with it. 

When the starvation of Germany was recognised as the goal the 
British Government were striving to reach, we had to realise what 
means we had at our disposal to defend ourselves against this danger. 
England was in a position to exert enormous pressure. We could 
not count on any help from the neutrals. Without exception they 
had submitted to England's will, though they had not all sought 
their advantage in it as Norway and America had done. As we 
have explained in the preceding chapters, in view of the attitude of 
the English Fleet, our Fleet with its smaller numbers, and as it was 



Germany's High Sea Fleet 

constituted at the outbreak of war, could not hope to score a decisive 
success by means of which German trade might revive and British 
trade be at the mercy of our cruisers. The assumption that we 
might have done this is Utopian and does not take into account the 
subsidiary means of controlling sea traffic which would still be left 
to England, even if her war Fleet proper were badly damaged. 

The help of such neutrals as were left in this war would not 
have afforded us sufficient security to enable us to maintain our 
economic life, so long as imports from overseas were lacking, even 
if they had been in a position to treat us in a more friendly manner 
after their spines had been stiffened by a severe English defeat at 
sea. We could only escape from this tight comer if we could find 
the means of exerting a still more stringent pressure upon English 
trade and so force England to yield. The U-boat might rescue us, 
because the protection which the English afforded trade was powerless 
against this weapon. 

A military and political problem of the utmost importance thus 
arose : Germany was in possession of a weapon which would render 
the English Fleet ineffective and was capable of upsetting England's 
whole plan of starving us out. It was only when the effectiveness 
of these boats under the pressure of war bad proved to be far beyond 
all expectations that it became clear that the U-boat could attain 
such importance as a weapon in naval warfare. The closest under- 
standing between the political leaders and the Naval Command was 
requisite for the use of this weapon. The first considerations were 
of course those concerning Maritime Law. 

It would take too long to reproduce here all the legal discussions 
that took place on this question. The novelty of the weapon 
demanded new methods which the opposition considered unjustifiable 
and which they, of course, opposed with the greatest vigour, since 
they were contrary to their interests. But there was no doubt that 
the English conduct of the war had given us the right to use 
retaliatory measures, especially since they had shown by example 
that it was a simple law of necessity imposed by war, to make use 
of the means at one's disposal "in order to carry out operations at 
sea effectively." 

The submarine was a weapon of war adopted by every state. 
This gave us the right to make use of it in the manner to which, 
owing to its peculiar nature, it was best adapted. Any use of it 
which did not take this peculiar nature inta account would be non- 
sensical and unmilitary. The U-boat's capacity for diving made it 


The U-Boat Campaign 

specially suitable for war on commerce, because it could ^pp^ar. 
un^cpgctfidl^andlhereby cause, f^r^and panic and scare away trade, 
while at the same time it couldescapfijhe. pursuit of the enemy. The 
fact that it could travel under water made the new weapon 
particularly promising. If it sank merchant vessels, including their 
crews and any passengers, the blame would attach to those who 
despised our warnings and, open-eyed, ran the risk of being 
torpedoed, in exactly the same way as the crews of those steamers 
that would not submit to English dictation, and in spite of the English 
warnings, took the risk of crossing the areas where mines were 


Was the audacity of the merchant seamen to prevent us from 
seizing a weapon on the use of which our fate depended ? Certainly 
no legal considerations could stop us from pursuing this course, 
but only political considerations as to whether we were strong enough 
to disregard unjustified protests. It was imperative to make the 
most of the advantages arising from the submersibility of the boat, 
otherwise the weapon would be blunted at the start and bound to 
be ine£fectual. The U-boat must constitute a danger from which 
there was no escape. Neither watchfulness nor speed could afford 
ships sufficient protection. That was the consideration on which 
the conclusion was based, that, as the loss of ships increased, trade 
with the British Isles must ultimately cease. (The submersibility 
of the boats would also leave the enemy in doubt as to the number 
of boats with which he had to wresde;)for he had no means of 
gaining a clear idea of the whereabouts of his opponent. One single 
successful U-boat that had made a route dangerous mi^ht produce 
the i mpress ion that two or more had been at work. For it is human 
nature to exaggerate unknown dangers. The target of attack 
presented to the U-boats by English trade, spread all around the 
British Isles, was vulnerable at every point of the coast. Therein 
lay a great advantage as compared with the conduct of war against 
trade as carried on by cruisers. They had to seek the open sea 
where there was little traffic in order to escape pursuit; the 
U-boat on the contrary could frequent the neighbourhood of the 
coast where all traffic met, and could escape pursuit merely by 

All these considerations had led to the same suggestion being 
made at one and the same time from the most varied sections of 
the navy — that our conduct of naval warfare must follow the example 
given by England, and be directed towards the destruction of Com- 

Germany's High Sea Fleet 

mercial traffic, because in that way we can hit England in a vital 
spot. The U-boat will serve as a suitable weapon for this purpose. 

In November, 1914, the Leaders of the Fleet laid this suggestion 
before the Chief of the Nayal Staflf, Admiral von Pohl, advancing 
the following arguments : 

''As our coast is not blockaded, our trade with neutrals, in so 
far as it does not involve contraband, might continue in the usual 
way. Nevertheless all trade on the North Sea coast has ceased. 
England exerts strong pressure on our neighbours to put a stop to 
all trade between them and us in goods which we need for the 
conduct of the war. Their most vigorous efforts are directed towards 
preventing the import of food from neutral countries. This does 
not apply merely to food imports destined for the troops ; flEngland 
wants to starve our whole nation .^ In this she overrides all rules 
of Internatfonal Law, as food is only conditional contraband and 
only liable to stoppage, therefore, when intended to assist in the 
conduct of the war. According to the provisions of the London 
Conference, conditional contraband can only be stopped when it 
is shipped direct to the enemy country. If it be sent via a neutral 
country, e.g. Holland, it is not permissible to stop it. In spite of 
this a large number of steamers carrying food, oil, metals, etc.. to 
neutral countries have been held up on the way, although it had 
not been ascertained with certainty that their further destination was 

"As England is trying to destroy our trade it is only fair if we 
retaliate by carrying on the campaign against her trade by all 
possible means. Further, as England completely disregards 
International Law in her actions, there is not the least reason why 
we should exercise any restraint in our conduct of the war. We 
can wound England most seriously by injuring her trade. By 
means of the U-boat we should be able to inflict the greatest injury. 
We must therefore make use of this weapon, and do so, moreover, 
in the way most suited to its peculiarities. The more vigorously 
the war is prosecuted the sooner will it come to an end, and countless 
human beings and treasure will be saved if the duration of the war 
is curtailed. Consequently a U-boat cannot spare the crews of 
steamers, but must send them to the bottom with their ships. The 
shipping world can be warned of these consequences, and it can 
be pointed out that ships which attempt to make British ports run 
the risk of being destroyed with their crews. This warning that 
the lives of steamers* crews will be endangered will be one good 


The U-Boat Campaign 

reason why all shipping trade with England should cease within 
a short space of time. The whole British coast, or anyway a part 
of ity must be declared to be blockaded, and at the same time the 
aforesaid warning must be published. 

"The declaration of the blockade is desirable in order to warn 
neutrals of the consequences. The gravity of the situation demands 
that we should free ourselves from all scruples which certainly no 
longer have justification. It is of importance too, with a view 
to the future, that we should make the enemy realise at once what 
a powerful weapon we possess in the U-boat, with which to injure 
their trade, and that the most unsparing use is to be made of it." 

Such action was suggested on military grounds. As was only 
natural, the political leaders were filled with grave doubts on account 
of its probable efiFect upon neutrals. The Imperial Chancellor sent 
a reply to the Admiralty on December 27, 1914; in this he summed 
up his reflections on the subject and declared that there was nothing \ 
from the legal point of view to be urged against the U-boat ' 
campaign, but that the decision must depend upon military and 
political considerations as to its advisability. The question was 
not whether it should be done, but when it could be done without 
ruining our position. Such a measure as the U-boat blockade would * 
react detrimentally upon the attitude of neutrals and our imports; i 
it could only be employed without dangerous consequences when / 
our military position on the Continent was so secure that there / 
could be no doubt as to the ultimate outcome there, and the danger / 
that the neutrals would join our opponents might be regarded as; 
out of the question. At the moment these conditions did not exist, j 

This answer shows that the importance of this matter was not 
fully recognised or appreciated. 

It was not a question of whether the Navy niight make use of 
a new and peculiar weapon in order to make the conduct of war 
at sea more effective and many-sided ; the question was whether the 
gravity of the situation had been truly appreciated. The Imperial 
Chancellor's answer culminated in the remark: First the war on 
land must be successful; then we can think of attacking England. _. 

Enemies on all sides I That was the situation. Could the war 
on land alone rescue us from the position, or war at sea as carried 
on heretofore ? How could we increase our efforts so as not to be 
defeated? Simple and straightforward reflection on this question 
pointed to. the U-boat campaign against commerce as the way out. 
Of course it was our duty thoroughly to weigh its political con- 


Germany's High Sea Fleet 

sequences, its practicability from the military point of view, and its 
chances of success on a careful estimate of English economic con- 
ditions. But the study of these points ought to have preceded the 
war. It was neglected then because no one foresaw that a fight 
with England would mean a fight against her sea traffic with all 
the consequences it would entail . For who anticipated that we could 
possibly be in a position to inflict as severe an injury on English 
trade as that which we must expect to receive from the effects of 
the English blockade ? It is no reproach to anybody not to have 
foreseen this. On the contrary, such aggressive ideas were quite 
foreign to our naval policy. In the course of the world-war, under 
the necessity of defending ourselves against the nations opposed 
to us, when we recognised the magnitude of the disaster which 
England had planned for us then, and then only, we descried a 
prospective possibility of winning freedom. It was lucky for us that 
our naval policy made it possible for us to carry out this plan ; that 
we could pass from the state of defence, in which the enemy would 
cheerfully have allowed us to go on stewing, to an offensive; that 
we not only possessed this weapon in our naval armament but that 
we also had the men to use it, men with sufficient technical knowledge 
and the necessary courage; and lastly that the U-boats could rely 
on the security of their bases which the Fleet was called upon and 
ready to maintain. 

The prospect was one of overwhelming magnitude, for it meant 
neither more nor less than the realisation of Germany's demand 
for the freedom of the seas. If we compare the importance of this 
undertaking with the manner of its execution we are filled with bitter 
disappointment over the lack of farsightedness and resolution 
amongst those with whom the ultimate decision lay; and with 
deep regret for the great and heroic sacrifices that were made 
in vain. 

Thus the U-boat campaign became almost entirely a question 
of politics, it was originally suggested by the Navy for military 
reasons; for it was the Fleet that had to bear the brunt of Englis 
pressure at sea, and it was the Fleet's duty to neutralise the effec 
of that pressure, which was very definitely directed against ou 
economic life. Considering the strength of the English Fleet an 
its strategy, it was impossible to remove this pressure directly, b 
all the same the U-boat had proved to be a weapon with which 
could inflict direct injury on English economic life, notwithstandin 
the protection which the Fleet afforded it. Economic life 


The U-boat Campaign 

England was almost entirely dependent on shipping, and so there 
was a prospect of our inflicting such material injury upon that island 
State that it would be unable to continue the war ; four-fifths of the 
food of the country and all raw materials it needed, excepting coal 
and half of the iron ore, had to be imported by sea. Neutral 
shipping also took part in supplying these imports. That is why 
the U-boat war against English trade became a political question, 
because it might do very considerable injury to the interests of 
countries which so far were not involved in the war. 

There is such an enormous literature on the subject of the 
economic as well as the legal conditions, that I shall content myself 
with an account of the political developments of the U-boat campaign 
and of its military realisation as it a£Fected us in the Fleet. 

The suggestion made by those in command of the Fleet to 
inaugurate a U-boat campaign against commerce was adopted by 
the Chief of the Admiralty Staff, von Pohl, in the form of a 
declaration of a War Zone which was published on February 4, 1915, 
of which the wording was as follows : 


1. The waters around Great Britain and Ireland, including 
the whole of the English Channel, are herewith declared to be 
in the War Zone. From February 18, 1915, onward, every 
merchant ship met with in this War 2^ne will be destroyed, nor 
will it always be possible to obviate the danger with which the 
crews and passengers are thereby threatened. 

2. Neutral ships, too, will run a risk in the War Zone, for 
in view of the misuse of neutral flags ordained by the British 
Government on January 31, and owing to the hazards of naval 
warfare, it may not always be possible to prevent the attacks 
meant for hostile ships from being directed against neutral 

3. Shipping north of the Shetland Islands, in the eastern 
part of the North Sea, and on a strip at least 30 nautical miles 
wide along the Dutch coast is not threatened with danger. 

Chief of the Naval Staff, 

(Signed) v. Pohl. 

This declaration was made with the consent of the Government, 
which sent a memorandum to the Powers affected, in which it was 
p 2^s 

Jl • .>■ 

' * Germany's High Sea Fleet 

clearly indicated that the declaration referred to the use of U-boats. 
The idea of declaring a blockade of the whole British coast, or 
individual ports> had been dropped. In declaring a War Zone we 
were following the English example. The characteristic of a 
blockade had always been that it must be rendered effective. But 
the number of boats at our disposal at that date could not be con- 
sidered sufficient for such a purpose. The blockade of individual 
ports would not have fulfilled the object of spreading consternation 
amongst the whole English shipping community, and would make 
ii easy for the English to take defensive measures if these could be 
confined to certain known areas. 

Unfortunately, when they declared the War Zone, those in 
authority could not bring themselves to state in so many words that 
all shipping there was forbidden. Such a prohibition would not 
have been in accordance with the Chancellor's ideas as expressed 
at the end of Defcember in the memorandum stating his doubts of 
the political wisdom of the move. This new declaration represented 
a compromise. We know from Grand-Admiral von Tirpitz, 
Secretary of State to the Imperial Admiralty, that he was given no 
opportunity to influence this decision. This is all the more 
incomprehensible, because he had to furnish the necessary material, 
and therefore should have had the casting vote as to whether the 
scheme were practicable or no. There seems to be no particularly 
valid reason why the announcement should have been hurried on 
in this way, except that perhaps Admiral von Pohl wanted to close 
the discussions with the Foreign Office by publishing this declara- 
tion before he took up his new post as head of the Fleet, to which 
he had already been appointed. This undue haste proved very 
awkward for him in his new position when he realised that the 
U-boats could not act in the way he had planned, on account of 
the remonstrances of the neutral States. He found himself obliged 
to protest against the orders issued for these reasons, orders which 
endangered the vital interests of the U-boats. 

The success of this declaration of a War Zone depended upon 
whether the neutrals heeded our warning and refrained, for fear 
of the consequences, from passing through the War Zone. If they 
did not wish to lose the advantages accruing to them from their sea 
trade with England they had to take the risks. 

The memorandum issued by the Government had characterised 
our action as a retaliatory measure against Great Britain, because 
the latter conducted the war against German trade in a manner 


The U-boat Campaign 

which ignored all principles of International Law. It then 
proceeded : 

("As England has declared the waters between Scotland and 
Norway to be part of the War Zone, so Germany declares all the 
waters round Great Britain and Ireland, including the whole English 
Channel, to be in the War Zone, and she will combat hostile ship- 
ping in those parts with every weapon at her disposal. For this 
purpose, from February i8 and onward, she will seek to destroy 
every hostile merchant ship which enters the War Zone, and it will 
not always be possible to obviate the danger with which the persons 
and goods on board will be threatened. , Neutrals are therefore 
warned in future not to risk crews, passengers and goods on such 
ships. Further, their attention is drawn to the fact that it is highly 
desirable that their own ships should avoid entering this zone. 
For although the German Navy has orders to avoid acts of violence 
against neutral ships, so far as they are recognisable, yet, in view 
of the misuse of neutral flags ordained by the British Government, 
and owing to the hazards of warfare, it may not always be possible 
to prevent them from falling a victim to an attack directed against 
an enemy ship." ^ 

Our U-boats received orders to adhere to the following rules while 
conducting their campaign against commerce : 


v^"The first consideration is the safety of the U-boat. Con- 
sequently, rising to the surface in order to examine a ship must 
be avoided for the sake of the boat's safety, because, apart from 
the danger of a possible surprise attack by enemy ships, there is 
no guarantee that one is not dealing with an enemy ship even 
if it bears the distinguishing marks of a neutral. The fact that a 
steamer flies a neutral flag, and even carries the distinguishing 
marks of a neutral, is no guarantee that it is actually a neutral 
vessel. Its destruction will therefore be justifiable unless other 
attendant circumstances indicate its neutrality." 

This attitude was all the more justified because the object of the 
whole enterprise was to make use of the U-boats to compensate us, 
since, owing to our geographical position, it was impossible for 
our surface ships to touch English world commerce^ A perceptible 
effect of the campaign against commerce could only be achieved 


Germany's High Sea Fleet 

if the peculiarities of the U-fa^t were taken into consideration, 
as they were in the instructions issued to them. The U-boat, as a 
special weapon in the war upon sea-borne trade, was to carry out 
the blockade in the War Zone. Its strength lay in the difficulty 
of perceiving an under-water attack, and it had to make use 
of this in^ the_ interests of self-preservation. You do not 
demand of an aeroplane that it should attack the enemy on its 
^ The danger which the neutrals ran arose from the difference in 
their attitude towards the two declarations of a War Zone made 
by England and by Germany. Never did a single ship, not even 
an American, defy the British order, and thereby test whether, in 
an extreme case, England would have carried out her declaration 
of a War Zone by the exercise of violence. On the contrary, the 
neutral ships voluntarily followed the routes prescribed by the English 
Admiralty, and ran into British ports. In our case the neutrals, 
despite all warnings, tried to break through again and again, so 
that we were forced to carry out our declaration in such a way that 
the threatened danger became a reality. 

' The assumption that the neutrals would accept our attitude 
without protest was not fulfilled: The United States especially 
raised very decided objections, accompanied by threats.^ In view 
of the attitude they observed towards England they could not 
contradict the statement that the new conditions of naval warfare 
formed a reason for new laws; but they made use of the maxim 
that the dictates of humanity set limits to the creation of new laws. 
That was equivalent to saying that human life must be spared under 
any circumstances, a demand which the U-boat is not always' able 
to fulfil, owing to its very nature. This is an extraordinary example 
of the Anglo-Saxon line of thought. You may let old men, women 
and children starve, and at the same time you insist that they must 
not be actually killed, because the English blockade of the North 
Sea could be carried out in such a manner that the ships only needed 
to be taken into port and not sunk. 

It appears very curious to-day that the possibility of such objec- 
tions was not foreseen and their consequences carefully examined. 
Owing to such objections our Government was faced with the follow- 
ing alternatives: Either it must retract its declaration of a War 
Zone, or, in carrying out activities in the War 2k>ne, should con- 
sider the neutrals, and in so doing gravely diminish the chances 
of success, if not destroy them altogether. Once we had shelved 


The U-boat Campaign 

the question of our moral right to carry on the U-boat campaign, 
because of the American demands made in the name of humanity, 
it became increasingly difficult to take it up again later in an in- 
tensified form, if this should prove necessary; for if there were 
need of an amelioration of the military situation, which the U-boat 
campaign could have brought about, then we must expect that the 
politicians would object on the grounds that the employment of 
this weapon would only make the general situation worse. 

That is the key to the continued opposition of the Imperial 
Chancellor to the initiation of a mode of warfare which could have 
dealt an effective blow at England. He had made it impossible from 
the very start. For in their answer to the American protest our 
Government said that they had announced the impending destruction 
only of enemy merchant vessels found in the War Zone, but not 
the destruction of all merchant shipping, as the American Govern- 
ment appeared erroneously to believe; and they declared that they 
were furthermore ready to give serious consideration to any measure 
which seemed likely to ensure the safety of legitimate neutral ship- 
ping in the War Zone. 

This recc^nition of legitimate shipping was in direct contradiction 
to the intentions of the Naval Staff. It is not clear why the 
declaration of the U-boat campaign should have been made so 
hastily, if the political leaders had not the will to carry it through. 
But there had to be a clear understanding on this point, if we 
intended to institute a U-boat campaign at all. One almost is 
tempted to think that this was a feeler to see if the neutrals would 
tamely submit to our action. But the consequences which a refusal 
must entail were far too serious. The form of the announcement of 
February 4 made it possible for our diplomats to maintain their 
declaration, and at the same time, in the conduct of the campaign, 
to grant the neutrals the immunity which they demanded. This 
restriction was forced upon the U^boais, and thus the U-boat cam- 
paign was in fact ruined. 

The Note could not have been worded with greater diplomatic 
skill if we had wished not to carry out the will of our leaders 
responsible for the conduct of the war, but rather to protect the 
interests of our enemies, which in this case were identical with those 
of the neutrals. 

Before the date fixed for the opening of hostilities had arrived, 
two telegrams were received by the Fleet on February 14 and 15. 
They ran as follows : 


Germany's High Sea Fleet 

1. "For urgent political reasons send orders by wireless to 
U-boats already dispatched for the present not to attack ships 
flying a neutral flag, unless recognised with certainty to be enemies." 

2. "As indicated in the announcement on February 2, H.M. 
the Emperor has commanded that tfie U-boat campaign against 
neutrals to destroy commerce, as indicated in the announcement of 
February 4, is not to be begun on February 18, but only when 
orders to do so are received from the ' All Highest. 

9 99 

Thereupon the head of the Fleet telegraphed to the Naval 

l« c 

U 30 ' already in the neighbourhood of the Irish Sea. The 
order only to destroy ships recc^nised with certainty as hostile 
will hardly reach her. This order makes success impossible, as 
the U-boats cannot determine the nationality of ships without ex- 
posing themselves to great danger. The reputation of the Navy 
will, in my opinion, suffer tremendously if this undertaking, publicly 
announced and most hopefully regarded by the people, achieves 
no results. Please submit my views to H.M." 

This telegram reflects the impression made upon Admiral von 
Pohl, as head of the Fleet, by the receipt of the two orders, which 
so utterly contradicted the hopes he had placed on his declaration 
of a War Zone. And it also proved how unwilling the Admiral 
himself was to demand such action from the U-boats. But the 
doubts which had arisen among our political leaders as to the wisdom 
of risking America's threatened displeasure continued to hold sway. 
I do not intend to question that their estimate of the general situation, 
combined with our capacity to carry on energetic U-boat warfare, 
justified their doubts; but then it was a grievous mistake to allow 
such a situation to arise, for it blocked the way for an unrestricted 
U-boat campaign in the future. 

On February 18 instructions in conformity with the new con- 
ditions were issued to the U-boats with regard to their course of 
action. They ran as follows : 

"i. The U-boat campaign against commerce is to be prosecuted 
with all possible vigour. 

"2. Hostile merchant ships are to be destroyed. 


The U-boat Campaign 

''3. Neutral ships are to be spared. A neutral flag or funnel 
marks of neutral steamship lines are not to be regarded, however, 
as suflicient guarantee in themselves of neutral nationality. Nor 
does the possession of further distinguishing neutral marks furnish 
absolute certainty. The commander must take into account all 
accompanying circumstances that may enable him to recognise the 
nationality of the ship, e.g. structure, place of registration, course, 
general behaviour. 

"4. Merchant ships with a neutral flag travelling with a convoy 
are thereby proved to be neutral. 

•^'5. Hospital ships are to be spared. They may only be attacked 
when they are obviously used for the transport of troops from 
England to France. 

''6. Ships belonging to the Belgian Relief Commission are like- 
wise to be spared. 

"7. If in spite of the exercise of great care mistakes should be 
made, the commander will not be made responsible.*' 

On February 22 the U-boats were to begin their activities on 
these lines. In these instructions the Naval Staff had been obliged 
to conform to the declaration which the Imperial Government 
had made to America,, explaining its conception of the conduct 
of the campaign against trade in the War Zone, although they 
had had no opportunity of expressing their doubts of the possibility 
of carrying ou( these instructions in practice. 

The activities of the U-boats were made much more diflicult 
because, for the time being, all goods conveyed to the enemy in 
neutral bottoms reached him without obstruction, and their successes 
were thereby reduced to a third of what they would otherwise have 
been ; for that y^as the extent to which neutral shipping was engaged 
in the commercial traffic with England. Further, neutrals could 
not be scared out of trading with England, because they knew by 
the declaration made to America that activities in the War Zone 
would be attended with less danger than had been threatened. Our 
intention of pursuing a milder form of activity was confirmed to 
Holland when^ after the sinking of the steamer Katwyk, popular 
opinion in Holland grew very excited, and our Foreign Office 
assured the Dutch Government in the following Note that an attack 
on a Dutch merchant vessel was utterly foreign to our desires : 


Germany's High Sea Fleet 

"If the torpedoing of the Katwyk was actually the work of a 
German U-boat the Gennan Government will not hesitate to assure 
the Dutch Government of its profound regret and to pay full com- 
pensation for the damage." 

Besides the neutral ships, many enemy ships by disguising them- 
selves with neutral distinguishing marks could get through with 
their cargoes in safety if the U-boat was not able to set its doubts 
on the subject at rest. This became very noticeable when the arming 
of steamers, which had meanwhile been carried out, had been added 
to the misuse of flags, and the U-boats were exposed to great danger 
in determining the nationality of ships. 

All these circumstances contributed to lessen the results. Our 
enemies acted in an increasingly unscrupulous manner, especially 
when bonuses were ofifered for merchant vessels which should sink 
U-boats. A particularly crude case was that of the British auxiliary 
cruiser, the Baralong, whose crew shot down the whole crew of 
" U 27 " (Commander, Lieut.-Commander Neigener) when they were 
swimming defenceless in the water and some of whom had taken 
refuge on board an American steamer. 

Regardless of all added difficulties, our U-boat crews devoted 
themselves to their task. Trying to achieve the greatest possible 
results, they nevertheless avoided incidents which might be followed 
by complaints, until on May 7 the sinking of the Lusitania, the 
English liner of 31,000 tons, aroused tremendous excitement. 

The danger which England ran, thanks to our U-boats,^ was 
shown in a lurid light; the English Press expressed consternation 
and indignation. It was particularly striking how the English 
Press persisted in representing the loss of the Lusit4inia not so much 
. as a British, but as an American misfortune. One must read the 
article in The Times which appeared immediately after the sinking 
of the Lusitania (8/5/ 191 5) to realise the degree of hypocrisy of 
which the English are capable when their commercial interests are 
at stake. Not a word of sjmipathy or sorrow for the loss of human 
life, but only the undisguised desire (with a certain satisfaction) to 
make capital out of the incident in order to rouse the Americans 
. and make them take sides against Germany. 
^ They were not to be disappointed in their expectations. In an 
exchange of Notes, which lasted until well into July, the Americans 
demanded the abandonment of the U-boat campaign because the 
manner in which we used this weapon to destroy trade was in prac- 


The U-boat Campaign 

lice irreconcilable with America's demand that her citizens should 
have the right in the pursuit of their lawful business to travel by 
sea to any spot without risk to their lives in so doing. We expressed 
our willingness to abandon this use of the U-boat if America could 
succeed in inducing. England to observe International Law. But 
this suggestion met with no success. The U-boat campaign was, 
however, further hampered by an order not to sink any big passenger 
steamers, not even those of the enemy. 

On August 19, 1915, a further incident occurred when the steamer 
Arabic was sunk by "U 24 "; although the boat acted in justifiable 
self-defence against a threatened attack by the steamer, yet the 
prohibition with regard to passenger boats was made more stringent, 
for the order was given that not only large liners, but ail passenger 
steamers must be warned and the passengers rescued before the ship 
was sunk. On this occasion, too, when the answer to the objections 
raised by America were discussed, the Chief of the Naval Staff, 
Admiral Bachmann, was not allowed to express his views. Conse- 
quently he tendered his resignation to His Majesty, which was 
duly accepted. Admiral von Holtzendorff was appointed in his 

In consideration of the small chances of success, the U-boat 
campaign off the west coast of the British Isles was abandoned. 
The Chief of the Fleet, Admiral von Pohl, also asked to be released 
from his ofifice if this last order concerning the passenger ships 
wece insisted on, because he could not take the responsibility of 
issmng such instructions, which could only be carried out at great 
risk to the U-boats, in view of the fact that so many losses had 
occurred since the first limiting order had been published; further, 
he held it to be impossible to give up the U-boat campaign, which ^ 
was the only effective weapon against England that the Navy pos- " 
sessed. His objections to the limitation of the U-boat campaign 
were dismissed by the remark that he lacked full knowledge of the 
political situation. 

Though the U-boat campaign west of England was given up, 
it was not stopped entirely, for subsequent to March, 1915, a U-boat 
base had been established at Zeebrugge, and another in the 
Mediterranean. "U 21 " had been sent under Hersing's command 
in April, 1915, to assist our warships which were engaged in the 
defence of the Dardanelles, and this had given proof of the great 
capacity of our U-boats. Consequently the newest boats, "U 33 " 
and "U 34," were sent to Pola, the Austrian Naval Base, in order 



Germany's High Sea Fleet 

to carry on the U-boat campaign in the Mediterranean. The seces- 
sion of Italy (May 27, 1915) to our enemies gave our boats there 
a new field of activity, because practically all steamer traffic in these 
waters was carried on under enemy flags, and complications with 
5 were hardly to be feared. 
Thus the U-boat campaign dragged on, though with but moderate 
success, to the end of the year. Yet it managed to deal wounds to 
English sea trade which exceeded in gravity anything that the island 
State had ever thought possible. The total sinkings from February 
to August amounted to 120,000 tons. Further results were : 

September, 136,000 tons. 
October, 108,000 tons. 
November, 158,000 tons. 
December, 121,000 tons.* 

Before the U-boat campaign oversea traffic to and from England 
had hardly been seriously reduced. Although the cruiser campaign 
carried on by the Emden, the Karlsruhe and the Kronprinz Friedrich 
Wilhelm and the Prit^s EiteUFriedrich had had a disturbing, effect, 
yet no decisive results could be achieved owing to the lack of oversea 
bases. The rise in freights was still moderate, and on the whole 
the Englishman hardly suffered at all. There was no question of 
want anywhere, and the rise in prices was slight. The U-boat cam- 
paign, however, changed British economic conditions fundamentally. 
Freights rose considerably. In May, 1915, they were double what 
they had been in January; in January, 19 16, they had risen on an 
average to ten times the amount they had been before the war 
(January, 1914). Wholesale prices, of course, followed this move- 
ment, and though imports had not decreased so much that there was 
any talk of want, yet the U-boat campaign had led to a scarcity, 
because the demand, so much increased by the needs of the army, 
was greater than the supply. 

Towards the end of the year the lack of tonnage^ began to be 
felt acutely, and it became clear that this lack was the chief difficulty 
that England had to face as a result of U-boat warfare. In January, 
1916, the new Chief of the Naval Staff handed in a memorandum 
in which he subjected British economic conditions to a thorough 
examination, and drew the following conclusions from his 
investigations : 

* These figures indicate gross tonnage. 


The U-boat Campaign 

1. The U-boat campaign of last year, gradually increasing its 
weapons but hampered by growing restrictions of a non-military 
nature, dealt a blow to a new economic entity hitherto little affected 
by the war and capable of strong resistance. By means of a scarcity 
which was mostly felt in a considerable rise in the price of important 
foodstuffs as well as of manufactured goods and raw materials, it 
reduced England's commerce to such an extent that serious economic 
and financial injury is apparent in all directions. This injury has 
aroused a feeling of considerable anxiety in England, where it was 
felt that a vulnerable spot was threatened ; moreover, it was calcularted 
gradually to make England inclined for peace. The effect wore off 
as soon as England was certain that for reasons due to considerations 
of a non-military naiture the U-boat campaign would not be 

2. The economic changes set up by the U-boat campaign have 
{tersisted, though for the most part in a milder form. Towards the 
end of 191 5 lack of transport reduced British sea-traffic to such an 
extent that the difficulties due to the interruption in British foreign 
trade were rendered more acute by the steady rise in the price of 
imports. Market prices followed suit. The financial situation, too, 
became disquieting owing to the drain on the country caused by the 
military and political situation. 

3. A new U-boat campaign would be undertaken under much 
more favourable circumstances than that of February, 191 5, because 
the amount of tonnage still available for British imports and exports 
cannot stand much further diminution, as in that case the transport 
of essemtial gpods will suffer, and because England has been robbed 
of the better part of her power of resistance by shortage, rise in 
prices and financial overstrain. Moreover, a new U-boat campaign 
has such weapons at its disposal that it is in a position to achieve 
considerably more from a miliitary point of view than last year's 
campaign, for though the enemy has increased his defensive power 
the U-boats are equipped with a number of new technical 

4. If on this basis the U-boat campaign has to be carried on 
with the same restrictions of a non-military nature as last year no 
doubt England's economic, and consequently also her financial, 
position will be further damaged. But it cannot be assumed with 
any certainty that in this way England will be forced to make peace, 
partly because of the many difficulties of carrying out a U-boat 



Germany's High Sea Fleet 

campaign with such a limitation of its specific activities^ and the 
consequent greatly increased possibilities of defence, but especially 
because, judging by last year's experience, the effect of terrorising 
shipping is to all intents and purposes lost. 

5. But if a new unlimited U-boat campaign is inaugurated on 
the principle that all shipping in the War Zone may be destroyed, 
then there is a definite prospect that within a short time, at most six 

, months, England will be forced to make peace, for the shortage of 
' transport and the consequent reduction of exports and imports will 
1 become intolerable, since prices will rise still more, and in addition 
. to this England's financial position will be seriously threatened. 
Any other end to the war would mean grave danger for Germany's 
future economic life when we consider the war on German trade that 
England has planned and from which she could be deterred only 
bj such a defeat as the U-boats could inflict. 

6. The United States are not in a position to lend England 
effective aid against a new U-boat campaign by providing her with 
tonnage. In view of the ever-increasing burdens imposed by the 
war, it is not to be supposed that the United States will afford 
England financial support for an indefinite period. Such support 
would, moreover, be of no avail in an unrestricted U-boat campaign 
against English trade, as iit could not prevent a scarcity of essential 
goods or make it possible for the English to carry on their export 

The proposal made by the Chief of the Naval Staff in January, 
1916, to start an unrestricted U-boat campaign was based on the 
following estimates of success : 

(a). From the beginning of the U-boat war in 1915 till the 
end of October of that year in the War Zone round England 
one or two steamers, averaging 4,085 tons, were sunk daily by 
each U-boat; this does not include steamers of less than 1,000 
tons. It could, therefore, be assumed that in the future each 
U-boat would sink ships amounting to at least 4,000 tons daily. 
If it is reckoned that in a month only four stations are continu- 
ously occupied — a very low estimate in view of the increase in 
the number of U-boats during 19 15 — then you get a total of 
16,000 tons a day, or 480,000 tons a month, in the War Zone 
round England. 


The U-boat Campaign 

(b). In the Mediterranean in the second half of the year 
1915 an average of 125,000 tons of shipping was sunk every 
month. Assuming that traffic did not materially fall off, as a 
result of the U-boat campaign, and that in the course of the 
summer of 1916 the number of stations in the Mediterranean 
would be further increased, the same result might be counted 
on; that is, 125,000 tons per month. 

(c). The amount of tonnage destroyed by mines had averaged 
26,640 tons a month. The same number could be assumed for 
the future. This would bring the total result per month up to 
631,640 tons, which would mean a complete loss of 3,789,840 
tons in six months. But the effect of this loss upon English 
trade and economic conditions must be measured by a multiple 
of this figure, because every lost ship would affect imports and 
exports, and would, moreover, have made several journeys in 
six months. The total tonnage of the English Mercantile Fleet 
at the outbreak of war amounted to 20 million tons in round 
numbers. Judging by the rise in prices which became manifest 
a few weeks after the opening of the U-boat campaign, an idea 
can be formed of what the effect would be if more than a third 
of England's total tonnage were completely lost, when it is 
considered that England is dependent on it to supply her 
manifold wants and keep up her widely extended business 
connections. There could then be no question of ''business 
as usual/' 

But the Imperial Government rejected the admiral's suggestion. 
So the Chief of the Naval Staff resolved to content himself 
with a kind of payment on account, which consisted in treating all 
armed enemy merchantmen as warships. But he did not give up 
all hope of soon being able to take up the U-boat campaign in its 
intensest form. 

When in January, 1916, I took over the command of the Fleet 
I considered it my first task to ascertain what weapons against 
England lay at my disposal, and especially to make sure whether, 
and in what way, the U-boat campaign against English trade was 
intended to be carried out. On February i the Chief of the 
Naval Staff assured me that the unrestricted U-boat campaign 
would be inaugurated on March i. All preparatory work for the 
operations of the Fleet were based on this assumption. As early 


Germany's High Sea Fleet 

as February ii the officers in command of the Fleet received the 
order as to the treatment of armed merchant vessels. According 
to this order enemy merchantmen armed with guns were to be 
looked upon as warships, and to be destroyed by all possible means. 
The commanders were to keep in mind that mistakes would lead 
to a break with neutral Powers, and therefore the sinking of a 
merchant vessel on account of its being armed might only be 
proceeded with when the fact that it carried a gun had been 
positively ascertained. In view of the warning to neutrals, which 
was to be conveyed through diplomatic channels, this order was not 
to come into force until February 29. 

The Government again issued a memorandum about the treat- 
ment of armed merchantmen. In this they explained at length that 
in view of the instructions issued by the British Government, and 
of the consequent conduct of English merchantmen, enemy merchant 
ships that were armed no longer had the right to be regarded as 
peaceful trading vessels. The German Government notified neutral 
Powers of this state of affairs, so that they might warn their people 
in future not to entrust their persons or their fortunes to armed 
merchantmen belonging to any of the Powers at war with the 
German Empire. After this explanation no neutral State could 
demand that its citizens should be entitled to protection if they 
travelled on armed enemy steamers into the War Zone. 

We expected that in these circumstances there would be fewer 
difficulties in carrying out the U-boat campaign, while paying due 
consideration to neutral shipping. But if, as the Chief of the 
Naval Staff had told me, it had been decided to open the 
unrestricted U-boat campaign on March i, it was not clear why 
this declaration relative to the treatment of armed steamers should 
have preceded it. My suspicion that the date of March i would not 
be adhered to was confirmed on the occasion of H.M. the Emperor's 
visit on February 23, of which I have given an account in an earlier 
chapter. The Emperor shared the political doubts which the 
Government had advanced, and wished to avoid a break with 
America. This announcement of the Government had received the 
assent of the Naval Staff, which was responsible for the war 
at sea, and so of course those in command of the Fleet had to submit 
to the order to resume the campaign against English trade with a 
few U-boats. 

We would try this first and await the result. Judging by the 
assurance given me, I took it for granted that the Government had 


The U-boat Campaign 

learnt a lesson from the events of 1915, and that it would not again 
give way if objections were raised, but would on the contrary then 
proceed with the intensified form of U-boat warfare. We had 
far greater means at our disposal now to give emphasis to our 

I should like to point out here that those in command of the 
Fleet had no right to exercise a decisive influence on the conduct 
of the war, but the Chief of the Fleet, being responsible for the 
execution of orders, could make representatiims if he found the 
conditions imposed on him too disadvantageous. Added to this, 
the Fleet had only some — about half — of the U-boats at its disposal ; 
the rest were in part attached to the Naval Corps, and in part 
under the orders of the Commander-in-Chief of the Baltic ; those in 
the Mediterranean took their orders direct from the Naval Stafif. 
But the problem' of the U-boat campaign was so closely connected 
with the combating of the English Fleet — our own Fleet's main 
task — that it became a matter of the greatest importance in its effect 
on the decisions of the Navy. I therefore thought it my duty to 
point out the difficulties which would arise in our conduct of the 
war in every sphere, if the U-boat campaign were prosecuted on 
principles that were militarily unsound; all the more so as I was 
accountable to the U-boats under my orders, if they were assigned 
to tasks which, would in the long run entail their destruction without 
their having achieved the success which they promised to do if 
rightly wielded as a weapon. 

From this point of view I endeavoured to combat the tendency 
to give way, which the Chief of the Nayal Staff betrayed when 
dealing with political objections, although in a long and well- 
thought-out memorandum he, as the proper representative of the 
naval fighting forces, had shown that unrestricted U-boat warfare 
was the best and safest means we possessed to subdue England 
.•and generally to bring the wiar to a successful close. 
'^ On March 4 the decisive session at General Headquarters took 
place, and the Chief of the Naval Staff informed me of the 
result as follows : 

"For military reasons, the unrestricted U-boat campaign against 
England, which alone promises full success, mu^ begin without fail 
on April i. Till then the Imperial Chancellor must set in motion 
all political and diplomatic machinery to make America clearly 
understand our positk>n, with the aim and object of securing our 
freedom of action. Up to that date the U-boat campaign shall be 


Germany's High Sea Fleet 

carried on against England as effectively as possible in conformity 
with the orders issued on March i ." 

The following considerations were the means of bringing about 
this decision at the discussion on March 4 : 

"The general military situation is good. East and west we hold 
the territory that we have victoriously won. No serious danger is 
to be apprehended from America so long as our U-boats and Fleet 
remain afloat. Austria is effectively repulsing Italy's attempts at 
attack ; Bulgaria has a firm hold on Serbian territory ; the Salonika 
campaign is ^doomed to come to a standstill ; the Russian offensive 
against Turkey has come to a stand on the Erzerum — ^Trebizond 
line ; the English expedition in Mesopotamia has ended in a heavy 
defeat; Egypt is threatened from the direction of Syria and by the 
Senussi, which means that a considerable British army of defence 
must be kept there. Latterly, too, military forces have had to be 
sent to Ireland. No essential change in the favourable general 
military situation is to be expected, nor on the other hand is there 
any, prospect of a decisive victory of all our forces. 

"From the economic point of view the fact that we are cut off 
from all imports from overseas and neutral countries becomes 
increasingly apparent; even a good harvest cannot bring security 
for the future, as long as England's policy of violence, whose 
object is to starve us out, is not stopped. Thus the economic 
conditions are very different from the military. Our opponents 
can hold out longer than we can. We must, therefore, aim at 
bringing the war to an end. We shall not be mistaken in assuming 
that an injury inflicted on England, which induces her to regard 
the conclusion (^ peace as better business, can force the others to 
peace as well. England can only be injured by war on her trade. 
The only means to inflict this injury is a ruthless U-boat campaign, 
the effects of which England will not be able to withstand for more 
than six or eight months if she cannot get assistance from others 
than her present Allies. Ruthless U-boat warfare will not only 
inflict damage on England; neutral shipping will also feel the full 
brunt of it, and cargoes and lives will be imperilled. The small 
neutral States must give in and are willing to do so: that is, to 
stop trade with England. America opposes this manner of waging 
the U-boat campaign, and threatens us with war. From a military 
point of view, and especially from the standpoint of the Fleet, we 
might well risk this war. But economically it would fatally 

• 340 

The U-boat Campaign 

aggravate our situation. Such a rich and distant country could 
stand the war for ten years or more. But it would afford our flagging 
opponents very considerable moral and material support which would 
enable them, including England, to hold out for a longer period. 
Our aim, which is to bring the war to an end within a short time, 
would be farther than ever from realisation, and Germany would 
be exposed to exhaustion. 

''As the present military situation is not such as to force us 
to stake everything on one throw of the dice, our superiority in the 
field must be maintained, and at the same time our diplomatists 
must do all in their power, first to prevent us from making new, 
dangerous enemies, and then to find ways and means of sowing 
discord among our present enemies and thereby open a prospect for 
a separate peace. If we succeed in keeping friends with America, 
and at the same time, by concessions in our manner of conducting 
the U-boat campaign, can induce her to exert strong and eflfective 
pressure on England, so that the legitimate trade of neutrals with 
the belligerents is re-established, then we shall obtain the economic 
aid which will enable us to maintain our favourable military situation 
permanently, and so to win the war. A break with America 
certainly affords us the tactical advantage (^ ruthless U*boat warfare 
against England, but only under conditions that will prolong the 
war, and will certainly bring neither relief nor amelioration to the 
economic situation. Should the attempt to keep America out of the 
war fail, it will still be our lot to face these conditions. We cannot 
take the responsibility of neglecting to make this attempt, for the 
sake of a few hundred thousand tons of enemy shipping that we 
might sink during the time the attempt is being made." 

These attempts met with no success whatever; certainly not 
within the period set aside up to April i. Neither was the assumption 
fulfilled that we might exert pressure upon England through the 
agency of America, so as to re-establish legitimate trade with 
neutrals, and thereby obtain the economic aid which would enable 
us to maintain our favourable military situation permanently. As 
soon as this was recognised we were confronted with the necessity 
of drawing the inevitable conclusions, and of beginning the economic 
war against England in its intenscst form. Otherwise the dreaded 
state of affairs spoken of at the session of March 4 would become a 
reality, and our opponents would be able to hold out longer than 
we could if no change occurred in the economic situation. The 
2 241 

Germany's High Sea Fleet 

dullest must have been forced into some recognition of this, when 
on April 20, in connection with the Sussex incident, America 
presented her threatening Note. « 

The date of April i had passed, and still the unrestricted U-boat 
campaign had not been started. But the leaders of the Fleet had 
no special reason for urging an early start, as the U-boats then at 
sea had not gathered sufficient experience on the basis of which 
we might make counter proposals. 

/On March 24, 1916, the steamer Sussex, with 300 passengers 
on board, among them being a number of American citizens, was 
torpedoed in the Channel while crossing fr<Mn Folkestone to Dieppe. 
So far as German observation went, it was not made clear at first 
whether the steamer had been hit by a U-boat, or had struck a 
mine. Certainly a ship had been torpedoed on that day and in 
that neighbourhood, but the German commander, judging by the 
circumstances and the appearance of the ship, took it for a mine- 
layer of the new "Arabis" class. The American Government took 
occasion, in consequence of this incident, to send a very sharp Note 
to the German Government, protesting against the wrongfulness 
of the submarine campaign against commerce. It threatened to 
break off diplomatic relations with Germany if the German Govern- 
ment did not declare the abandonment of its present methods of 
submarine warfare against passenger and merchant vessels, and 
see that it was carried out. 

As a result of this Note, presented on April 20, 1916, our 
Government decided to give in and sent orders to the Naval 
Staff to the effect that submarine warfare was henceforward to be 
carried on in accordance with Prize Law. This order reached the 
Fleet by wireless telegraphy when it was on the way to bombard 
Lowestoft. As war waged according to Prize Law by U-boats 
in the waters around England could not possibly have any success, 
but, on the contrary, must expose the boats to the greatest dangers, 
I recalled all the U-boats by wireless, and announced that the 
U-boat campaign against British commerce had ceased. 

On April 30 I was informed by the Naval Staff that His 
Majesty approved of the interruption of the U-boat campaign 
against commerce ordered by the Commander of the Fleet, and he 
directed that the U-boat weapon should meanwhile be vigorously 
used for military purposes. The order to resume the U-boat 
campaign against trade would be given when the political and 
military situation should demand it. 


The U-boat Campaign 

Having U-boats at my disposal for military purposes gave me 
the desired opportunity of extending the operations of the Fleet, 
and it was owing to this circumstance that the Fleet had occasion 
on May 31 to meet the English Fleet in battle near the Skagerrak. 
To my idea the moral impression which this battle left on the neutral 
nations created a most favourable atmosphere for us to carry on 
the war against England by all possible means, and to resume 
the U-boat campaign in all its intensity. I took the opportunity of 
submitting this view to H.M. the Emperor, when he visited the 
Fleet at Wilhelmshaven on June 5. 

In May the Naval Staff had again begun to try to persuade 
the leaders of the Fleet to change their mind and resume the U-boat 
campaign in accordance with Prize Law, so as to be able to inflict 

it least some injury on England. But as even the regulations as 
> the treatment of armed steamers had been rescinded, I refused to 
^n template a resumption. 
In June, soon after the battle,- the Niaval Staff again 
returned to this subject, and on June 20 invited me to 
state my point of view in order to incorporate it in a memorandum 
to be presented to the Emperor. I replied that in view of 
the situation I was in favour of the unrestricted U-5oat campaign 
against commerce, in the form of a blockade of the British 
coast, that I objected to any milder form, and I suggested that, if 
owing to the political situation we could not make use of this, our 
sharpest weapon, there was nothing for it but to use the U-boats 
for military purposes. A few days later the Chief of the Naval 
Cabinet thought to persuade me to change my attitude. He wrote 
me the following letter on the subject, dated June 23, from General 
Headquarters : 

^ "The Chief of the Naval Staff has given me your letter to 
read on this subject; its conclusions may be summed up in the 
words, * Either everything or nothing.* I can fully sympathise with 
you in your point of view, but unfortunately the matter is not so 
simple. We were forced, though with rage in our hearts, to make 
concessions to America, and in so doing to the neutrals in general, 
but, on the other hand, we cannot wholly renounce the small 
interruptions of trade that it is still possible for us to carry out, which 
are proving of considerable value, too, in the Mediterranean. It is 
the thankless task of the Chief of the Naval Staff to try and 
find some way of making this possible in British waters as well. 


Germany's High Sea Fleet 

And it is my opinion that the Chief of the Fleet should assist him 
in this as far as in him lies, by bringing about a compromise 
between the harsh professional conception of the U-boat weapon 
and the generaU political and military demands which the Chief of 
the Naval Staff has to satisfy. Of course, to that end it is 
necessary that the Chief of the Fleet should unreservedly acknow- 
ledge the decisions of the All Highest with regard to the limitation 
of the U-boat campaign, as the result of the most serious deliberation 
upon the military, political and economic situation. This is, of 
course, merely what is to be expected of him as a soldier. And 
further, that he should pledge himself to make use of the U-boat 
as a weapon, despite the limitations imposed, in order in the first 
place to injure, or at least continually to threaten, the import trade 
of England. I do not take it upon myself to offer any suggestions 
on the way in which such use can be made of the U-boats, e^ecially 
as I know it is a far more difficult matter near the English coast 
than it is in the Mediterranean. 

"What I ask of you is merely this: that you should personally 
try to arrive at some understanding with the Chief of the Naval 
Staff which will lead to some positive result, and by so doing put 
an end to a situation in which His Majesty might be forced to issue 
commands instead of merely approving ; as, for instance, if he should 
order so many more U-boats to be given up for use in the 
Mediterranean, as offering a more fruitful field for the U-boat 
campaign against commerce. 

"In conclusion, I should like to remark that for my part I still 
believe in the possibility of a ruthless U-boat campaign. The 
conflict between America and Mexico, the growing bitterness of the 
neutrals on account of England's blockade, increasingly good 
prospects for the harvest, and last but not least our successes on 
both fronts — all these are matters which tell in favour of such use 
of our U-boats, without involving us in an uncertain political 

"(Signed) v. Muller." 

I replied that nothing more could be expected of me than that 
I should express my honest conviction, especially as it was in 
connection with new and far-reaching decisions to be taken by the 
Emperor that my opinion on the subject was asked. 

On his visit on June 30 the Imperial Chancellor gave me the 
impression that he had not the slightest intention of employing 


The U-boat Campaign 

against England all the weapons at our disposal, but also that 
he would not give his consent to an unrestricted U-boat campaign, 
so as not to be faced with fresh troublesome incidents. The course 
of events hitherto had shown that America interfered on England's 
behalf as soon as the U-boat campaign began to have perceptible 
results. For ever so long America had systematically prevented 
us from using our most effective weapon. Our attitude gave our 
people the false impression that, despite America's objections, we 
were still going to use our U-boat weapon with all our might. 
The people did not know that we, pledged to the nation by our 
big talking, were only pretending to carry on the U-boat campaign, 
and America laughed because she knew that it lay with her to 
determine how far we might go. She would not let us win the war 
by it. So we did not wield our U-boat weapon as a sword which 
was certain to bring us victory, but, as my Chief of the Staff, Rear- 
Admiral von Trotha, put it, we used it as a soporific for the feelings 
of the nation, and presented the blunt edge to the enemy. Gerard 
was right; he never wanted a war between America and Germany 
— but he wanted our defeat. That suited his book ever so much 

If we review the course of development of our policy from 
January, 1916, we find that it had zigzagged in the following 
manner : 

1. On January 13, 1916, the Naval Staff declares: If the U-boat 
campaign is to achieve the necessary success it must be carried on 

2. On March 7, 191^ Decision of His Majesty's, passed on 
by the Naval StaiOf: For military reasons the inauguration di 
the unrestricted U-boat campaign against England, which alone 
promises full success, is indispensable from April i onward. 

3. On April 25, 1916 : We are to carry on the war against trade 
absolutely according to Prize Law, consequently we are to rise to 
the surface and stop ships, examine papers, and all passengers and 
crew to leave the ship before sinking her. 

4. On June 30, 1916: The Imperial Chancellor informs the 
Commander of the Fleet that he personally is against any unrestricted 
form of U-boat campaign, " which would place the fate of the 
German Empire in the hands of a U-boat commander.*' 

5. At the same time a proposal from the Chief of the Naval 
Staff: The war against merchant ships to be carried on in the 
following manner: They are to be approached under water to see 


Germany's High Sea Fleet 

whether they are armed; if they are not armed, the boat is to rise 
to the surface at a safe distance, examine papers, and sink the ship 
when the crew is in safety. 

All these impressions induced me, when I wrote my report of 
the Battle of the Skagerrak for the Emperor, to conclude by again 
pointing out most emphatically the necessity of taking up the 
unrestricted U-boat campaign at once, unless we wanted to give up 
all hope of defeating England. Now Admiral von Muller's letter 
seemed to imply that the Emperor disapproved of my urging this, 
whereas I was able to ascertain later that His Majesty, far from 
appending any disparaging remark to the conclusion of my report, 
had actually appended a note of approval to it, and had acquiesced 
jn my report as a whole. 

We should have begun the U-boat campaign in January, 19 16, 
as the Chief of the Naval Staff proposed, or at latest imme- 
diately after the Battle of the Skagerrak, when, to my idea, the 
circumstances were particularly favourable. That we failed to do 
so fatally affected the outcome of the war. Thanks to the number 
constructed in 1915, we had a sufficiency of U-boats. We lost 
valuable time that year, when our nation's power of resistance 
was much greater than in 191 7, when we were almost at our last 
gasp, and we were forced, after all, to seize the weapon which 
promised to prove our salvation. And in the course of this year 
•^ England was able systematically to develop her defence. 

The remainder of 1916 was taken up with similar discussions 
between the Naval Staff, Fleet and Government. The Chief of 
the Naval Staff endeavoured to persuade the Ministry to sanction 
the unrestricted U-boat campaign, and, on the other hand, urged 
the Fleet to agree to the boats resuming the war against commerce 
in a milder form. I was convinced that, if the leaders of the Fleet 
had given way in this matter, the worst would have happened — 
just what we most had to try and avoid, viz. that we should really 
have carried on a sort of pretence campaign to act as a soporific to 
the feelings of the people, and we should have presented the blunt 
e dge <rf our weapon to the enemy. 

At the beginning of the year 1916 the Chief of the General Staff 

of the Army, von Falkenhayn, had also strongly advocated our 

\ embarking on an unrestricted U-boat campaign, because he had 

i realised that our only hope of future salvation lay in overcoming 

> English resistance. In the autumn of 19 16 Field-Marshal von 

Hindenburg took over the Supreme Command of the Army, to save 


The U-boat Campaign 

the serious situation which had arisen in the war on land. At that 
time there was under discussion a new demand on the part of the 
Chief of the Nayai Staff to resume the U-boat campaign with 
full intensity. At the meeting of September 3 at General Head- 
quarters in PlesSy at which the matter was considered, the following 
were present: the Imperial Chancellor, the Field-Marshal, General 
Ludendorif, Admiral von Holtzendorif, Admiral von Capelle, as 
Secretary of State of the Imperial Ministry of Marine, the Secretary 
of State for Foreign Affairs, von Jagow, the Secretary of State, 
Helfferich, and the War Minister, Wild von Hohenborn. The out- 
come of the proceedings was that, after consulting all who were 
concerned in the question of the U-boat campaign, they unanimously 
declared that the decision must for the time being be postponed, 
because the general situation, and especially the military situation, 
was by no means clear, and they resolved that the final decision 
should lie with General Field-Marshal Hindenburg. 

I took occasion after that to send the Chief of the Staff of the 
High Sea Fleet to General Headquarters, to consult with General 
Ludendorff, and they agreed upon the following : 

1. There is no possibility of bringing the war to a satisfactory 
end without ruthless U-boat warfare. 

2. On no account must a half-and-half campaign be started, 
which could not achieve anything of importance, but involved the 
same military dangers, and would probably result in a new limita- 
tion for the nation. 

3. The U-boat campaign should be begun as soon as possible. 
The Navy is ready. 

4. The separate treaties with the Northern States, who had re- 
ceived considerable concessions in the matter of exports to England, 
must be cancelled with all speed, so that we can act without 

5. In no circumstances must there be any yielding. 

The Chief of the Staff returned from this conference under the 
impression that the question of the U-boat campaign could not be 
in better hands than in those of the Chief of the General Staff of 
the Army. I was able to confirm this view later, when on Novem- 
ber 22 I had occasion myself to discuss the question at General 
Headquarters with the Field-Marshal and with General Ludendorff. 


Germany's HigKSea Fleet 

The military situation in the autumn had led to a postponement 
of U-boat activity, so as to avoid complications in the War Zone 
round England; the only injury to commerce at the moment was 
that inflicted on ships in the Mediterranean. That is why the U-boat 
campaign was extended to Northern waters — ^to sink supplies which 
were sent via Archangel to the Russian seat of war. 

The refusal of our peace proposals in December brought about 
a new situation in the U-boat war. Our enemies had given us 
clearly to understand that they would accept no peace of under- 
standing. This led to the decision to open the unrestricted U-boat 
campaign on February i, 191 7. The Chief of the Naval Staff, 
with the approval of the General Field-Marshal, succeeded in bring- 
ing about this decision, in which the Imperial Chancellor acquiesced. 
So on that date the most effective period of our war against England 
^ actually began. On December 22, 1916, the Chief of the Naval 
Staff had again, in a detailed memorandum, given explicit reasons 
for adopting this form of campaign. He summed up his arguments 
as follows : 

** I. A decision must be reached in the war before the autumn 
of 191 7, if it is not to end in the exhaustion of all parties, and 
consequently disastrously for us. Of our enemies, Italy and France 
are economically so hard hit that they are only upheld by England's 
energy and activity. If we can break England's back the war will 
at once be decided in our favour. Now England's mainstay is her 
shipping, which brings to the British Isles the necessary supplies 
of food and materials for war industries, and ensures their solvency 

"2. The present state of the tonnage question, which has alrea^ 
been described in detail, may be summed up as follows : Freight 
in the case of a large number of important articles have risen 
tremendously, some of them to ten times and more what they were 
before. From many other indications we can conclude with certainty 
that everywhere there is a shortage of tonnage. We may with safety 
assume that English shipping still amounts at the moment to 
20 million tons, gross tonnage. Of this at least 3.6 million tons 
are requisitioned for military purposes, and half a million tons are 
occupied in coast traffic^ atx)ut i million tons are under repair or 
temporarily unfit for use; about 2 million tons are taken up in 
supplying the needs of England's Allies; so that for her own supplies 
at most 8 million tons are available. Computations based on statistics 


The U-boat Campaign 

of traffic in English ports gives an even smaller result. According 
to that, from July to September, 1916, English shipping amounting 
to only 6^ million tons, gross tonnage, was engaged in traffic to 
England. Other shipping going to England may be estimated at 
900,000 tons of enemy — * non-English * — ^ships, and a good 3 million 
tons of neutrals. Taking it all round, the shipping which supplies 
England amounts to only 10^ million tons, gross registered tonnage, 
in round figures. 

"3. The results achieved hitherto in the war on shipping justify 
us in assuming that further activities in this direction promise 
success. But in addition to this, the bad harvests in wheat ^nd 
produce all over the world offer us a quite unique opportunity of 
which it would be sinful not to take advantage. North America 
and Canada will, in all probability, be able to send no more grain 
to England after February, so the latter will have to draw her grain 
supplies from the distant Argentine; and as the Argentine can 
spare very little, owing to a bad harvest, it will have to come all 
the way from India, and to an even greater extent from Australia. 
The fact that the grain has to come from such a much greater 
distance involves the use of 720,000 more tons of shipping for grain 
carrying purposes. It practically comes to this, that until August, 
1917, of the 10^ million tons at their disposal. ^ million are required 
for a purpose for which they were never needed before. 

''4. Such favourable conditions promise certain success to an 
energetic blow, dealt with our full force against English shipping. 
I can only repeat and emphasise what I said on August 27 : ' Clearly 
what we must do is to bring about a decision in our favour by 
continuing to destroy shipping,' and, further, * It is absolutely un- 
justifiable from the military point of view not to make use of the 
weapon of the U-boat.' I do not hesitate to assert that, as matters 
now stand, we can force England to make peace in five months 
by means at the unrestricted U-boat campaign. But this holds good 
only for a really unrestricted U-boat campaign, not for the cruiser 
warfare formerly carried on by the U-boats, even if all armed 
steamers are allowed to be torpedoed. 

**5. Basing our calculations on the former monthly results of 
600,000 tons of shipping sunk by unrestricted U-boat warfare, and 
the expectation that at least two-fifths of neutral sea traffic will at 
once be terrorised into ceasing their journeys to England, we may 
reckon that in five months shipping to and from England will be 
reduced by about 39 per cent. England would not be able to stand 


Germany's High Sea Fleet 

that, neither in view of post-war conditions, nor with regard to 
the possibility of carrying on the war. She is already confrcMited 
with a shortage ol food which forces her into attempting the same 
rationing measures that we, as a blockaded country, have had to 
adopt in the course of the war. The existing conditions with which 
such an organisation will have to reckon are very different and 
incomparably less favourable in England than here. The necessary 
authorities do not exist, and the people in England have not been 
educated to submit to such coercion. 

"For another reason it would not now be possible to institute 
a uniform reduced bread ration for the large population of England. 
It was possible in Germany at a moment when the sudden reduction 
in the bread ration was counterbalanced for the time being by 
supplies of other food. They have missed that opportunity in 
England, and nothing can recall it. But with about three-fifths 
of her former shipping she cannot continue her food supply without 
a steady and vigorous reduction in the consumption of wheat, while 
at the same time she has to keep up her war industries. In the 
accompanying memorandum I have refuted in detail the objection 
that England might have enough grain and! raw materials in the 
country to be able to carry on through this period of danger until 
the next harvest. Added to this, the unlimited U-boat campaign 
would mean an immediate shortage of fats, since she would be cut 
off from imports from Holland and Denmark ; and one-third of her 
total imports of butter come from the latter country, while all the 
margarine comes from the former. Further, it will mean that the 
lack of wood and iron ore will be intensified, because the import 
of wood from Scandinavia will be threatened, while at the same time 
the imports of iron from Spain will be jeopardised. That will mean 
an immediate reduction in coal production, because the necessary 
wood will not be forthcoming; the same is true of iron and steel, 
and consequently of munitions, which are dependent on both. 
Finally, it will at length give us the desired opportunity of attacking 
the supply of munitions from neutral countries, and by so doing 
relieve our army. 

"As opposed to this, cruiser warfare waged by U-boats, even if 
armed steamers were not exempt from sinking, would result in re- 
ducing shipping to England by one-fifth of 400,000 tons, or about 18 
per cent, of the present monthly traffic, that is less than half of what 
would result from the unrestricted U-boat campaign. Judging by 
our experience up to date, we cannot assume that if the armed 


The U-boat Campaign 

steamers were not exempt there would be a perceptible increase in 
the sinking of tonnage, which in the last two months amounted to 
about 400,000 tons a month. So far as one can see, any such 
increase would only serve to counterbalance the losses which must 
be expected to grow in number as the arming of the ships 

" I am quite clear on the point that the loss of one-fifth of British 
shipping would have a very serious 'effect on their supplies. But I 
think it out of the question that, under the leadership of Lloyd 
George, who is prepared to go to all lengths, England could thereby 
be forced to make peace, especially as the above-mentioned effects 
of the shortage of fats, wood and ir<Hi ore, and the continued influence 
on Jthe supply of munitions would not come into play at all. Further, 
the psychological effects of panic and fear would be lacking. These, 
which can only result from unrestricted U-boat warfare, I hold to 
be indispensable conditions of success. Our experiences at the 
beginning of the U-boat war in 1915, when the English still believed 
we were in earnest about continuing it, and even in the short U-boat 
campaign of March and April, 1916, proved how potent these effects 

"A further condition is that the declaration and commencement 
of the unrestricted U-boait war should be simultaneous, so that there 
is no time for negotiations, especially between England and the 
neutrals. Only on these conditions will the enemy and the neutrals 
be inspired with * holy * terror. 

**6. The declaration of unrestricted U-boat warfare will confront 
the Government of the United States with the question whether 
they are prepared to draw the logical conclusions from the attitude 
they have hitherto adopted towards the use of U-boats or not. I am 
most emphatically of opinion that war with the United States of 
t America is such a serious matter that everything must be done to 
avoid it. But, in my qpinion, fear of a break must not hinder us 
from using this weapon which promises success. In any case, it is 
desirable to envisage the consequences least favourable to us and to 
realise what the effect on the course of the war will be if America 
joins our enemies. So far as tonnage is concerned this effect can 
only be very small. It is not probable that more than a small frac- 
tion of the tonnage belonging to the Central Powers which is lying, 
in America, and perhaps also in neutral ports, will be quickly avail- 
able for voyages to England. By far the greater part <rf it can be 
damaged to such an extent that it would be useless during the first 


Germany's High Sea Fleet 

months, which will be the decisive period. Preparations for this 
have been made. 

"Nor would crews be immediately available for them. Decisive 
e£fects need not be anticipated from the co-operation of American 
troops, who cannot be brought over in considerable numbers owing 
to the lack of shipping; similarly, American money cannot make up 
for the shortage of supplies and tonnage. 

" The question is, what attitude America would adopt if England 
were forced to make peace. It is improbable that she would decide 
to carry on the war singlehanded, as she lacks the means to make a 
vigorous attack on us, and her shipping would meanwhile be dam- 
aged by our U-boats. On the contrary, it is probable that she 
would associate herself with the peace concluded by England so as 
to return to healthy economic conditions as soon as possible. 

"I have therefore come to the conclusion that we must have 
recourse to unrestricted U-boat warfare, even at the risk of war with 
America, so long as the U-boat campaign is begun early enough 
to ensure peace before the next harvest, that is, before August i ; we 
have no alternative. In spite of the danger of a break with America, 
an unrestricted U-boat campaign, begun soon, is the right means to 
bring the war to a victorious end for us. Moreover, it is the only 
means to that end. 

"7. The situation has improved materially for us, since in the 
autumn of 1916 I declared that the time had come to strike a de- 
cisive blow against England. The failure o( the harvests all over 
the world, together with the effect of the war on England up to the 
present time, once more give us a chance of ending the war in our 
favour before the new harvests are reaped. If we do not niake the 
best of this, the last opportunity as far as man can tell, I see no other 
possibility than exhaustion on bath sides without our being able 
to end the war so that our future as a World Power is secured. In 
order to achieve the necessary effect in time the unrestricted U-boat 
campaign must begin on February i at the latest. 

" I beg your Excellency to inform me whether the military situa- 
tion on the Continent, particularly as regards the States which are 
neutral, will permit of this date being fixed. I require a period of 
three weeks to make the necessary arrangements. 

"(Signed) v. Holtzendorff." 

There is no doubt that the Chief of the Naval Staff, although 
we in the Fleet had no special knowledge to that effect, must have 

The U-boat Campaign 

made known to the Cabinet the same views which he described in so 
much detail in his memorandum to General Field-Marshal von 
Hindenburg, viz., that it was high time to start the unrestricted 
U-boat campaign. In this quarter, though, he seems to have met 
with greater difficulties, so that he once more appears to have been 
inclined to compromise. When the orders regarding the date of 
the opening of the campaign failed to reach the Fleet in the middle 
of December, the time for which the admiral had announced them, 
and when, in reply to my inquiries, I received evasive answers, I 
feared that a new obstruction had arisen. I therefore sent Captain 
von Levetzow to Berlin to make inquiries. He was given to under- 
stand in an interview with Admiral von Holtzendorfl on January 4 
that for the moment he could only obtain permission to sink armed 
liners, v A Note on this subject was ready and about to be dispatched 
to America. Again there was the danger that we should pursue 
exactly the same course as a year ago, a course which had led to 
such miserable results. I had commissioned my representative ito 
warn them emphatically against this. He had occasion on January 
8 to be received by the Imperial Chancellor and to point out to him 
the inadequacy of such a middle course which was bound to give 
offence and would be wrecked if America offered objections. The 
difficulty of determining whether a steamer were armed or not would 
seriously compromise the success of the undertaking. The Chan- 
cellor went the very same evening to Pless, where the decisive session 
took place the following day when the Chief of the Naval 
Staff insisted on the necessity of the step, as explained in his 
memorandum to the Field-Marshal, and convinced His Majesty 
as well. 

On January 9 the officer commanding the Fleet received two com- 
munications at short intervals. The first stated that from February i 
onward all merchant ships as soon as it had been positively ascer- 
tained that they were armed were to be attacked forthwith. Up to 
that date only armed cargo boats were to be sunk without warning. 
This meant that after February i passenger ships also would be 
subject to submarine attack. The second telegram contained an 
order sent by the All Highest to the Chief of the Naval Staff 
to the following effect : 

"I command that the unrestricted U-boat campaign shall begin 
on February i in full force. You are to make all necessary prepara- 
tions without delay, but in such a way that neither the enemy nor 


Germany's High Sea Fleet 

neutrals can obtain early information of this intention. The funda- 
mental plans of operation are to be submitted to me.*' 

It struck me as odd that an order to proceed against armed 
steamers should be issued on February i while the unrestricted 
U-boat campaign was to start on the same day. The only explana- 
tion I could think of was that the aforemerotioned Note concerning 
the treatment of armed steamers from February i onwards had 
already been sent to the American Government, and that it was too 
late to stop it being delivered. The American Government would 
certainly be surprised if, after receiving such an announcement in 
the first half of January, it were informed a few weeks later (Februarj- 
i) of the intensification of U-boat warfare. But it would make a vast 
difference to America whether the fundamental right of neutrals <to 
send ships to the blockaded area was conceded, or as unrestricted 
U-boat war demanded, all shipping in those parts was exposed to 
destruction. It seems, judging by later communications, there was 
some idea of asking the American Government to mediate; if this 
was so the adoption c^ two such different attitudes on the U-boat 
question, one following the other in such quick succession, must 
have an awkward effect. Nothing was made known to the Naval 
Staff, nor to the officers commanding the Fleet (who certainly were 
not directly concerned in such matters), of any negotiations which 
were in progress at that time and which might have been unfavour- 
ably affected by the declaration of the unrestricted U-boat campaign. 
When later on I took over the duties of Chief of the Naval Staff 
I found no record that any letter from the Imperial Chancellor had 
been received before the actual commencement of the unrestricted 
U-boat campaign on February i asking for a postponement so as 
to make a last attempt to avoid this extreme measure. I am con- 
vinced, too, that if Admiral von Holtzendorff had had any knowledge 
of the matter he would have told me of it when he handed over 
affairs to me on our change of office, if not before. Owing to his 
severe illness in the summer of 1918 he never had an opportunity of 
making any statement on this question. 

With the unrestricted U-boat campaign we had probably em- 
barked on the most tremendous undertaking that the world-war 
brought in its long train. Our aim was to break the power of 
mighty England vested in her sea trade in spite of the protection 
which her powerful Fleet could afford her. Two and a half years 
of the world-war had passed before we addressed ourselves to this 


The U-boat Campaign 

task, and they had taxed the strength of the Central Powers to the 
uttermost. But if we did not succeed in overcoming England's will 
to destroy us then the war of exhaustion must end in Germany's 
certain defeat. There was no prospect of avoiding such a con- 
clusion by the war on land; nor could we assume that America's 
definitely unneutral attitude towards us would change, or that by her 
mediation any peace could be obtained with satisfactory results for 
us, since Wilson's pt^oposal to act as mediator in a peace in which 
there should be neither victors nor vanquished had been so brusquely 
refused by our enemies. 

In such a situation it was not permissible to sit with fvlded hands 
and leave the fate of the German Empire to be decided by chance cir- 
cumstances. All in a position of responsibility fek it incumbent 
upon them to suggest any means that offered a prospect of warding 
joff the impending disaster. An opinion from the military point of 
\view as to the chances of success in war upon enemy sea trade had 
Wen expressed; it was based on the statistics of tonnage sunk in 
previous years. In this respect expectations were far surpassed in 
the coming year. But the effects of this blow dealt to English com- 
merce could not be foretold in the same way. It was immediately 
obvious that a reduction of the English mercantile fleet by a third, 
or even a half, must have a catastrophic effect on English econcnntc 
conditions, and make England incline towards peace. 

The Naval Staff had made a point of carefully examining the 
economic conditions with the help of experts and had recorded the 
results of their researches in a number of detailed memoranda, which 
they had submitted to the responsible Imperial officials. These re- 
searches had included the complicated problems of traffic for military 
purposes as well as for the needs of civilians by land and sea ; sup- 
plies for the whole country as well as for the troops in the various 
theatres of war ; the food supply of the nation ; distribution of goods ; 
home production; stores controlled by the State and rationing. 
Moreover, all these inquiries and the considerations they gave rise 
to had to be carried out in unfamiliar circumstances due to the war. 
Further, an estimate had to be made of the probable direct and 
ndirect effects of all these conditions on the psychological state of 
he people. The conclusions based on these researches were drawn 
jp in outline so as to give some idea of the probable effects, and 
hey confirmed the general impressions gathered from the beginning 
)f our war on trade that success was certain to crown our efforts if 
ve pursued this course. We had no alternative but to attack our 



Germany's High Sea Fleet 

enemy by trying to destroy his economic strength, since all his 
efforts were directed towards crushing ours. Now, as never before, 
it depended on which of us could hold ou<t the longer. 

In every great effort, if you want to develop it to its fullest 
strength, you must have the conviction that you can defeat your 
opponent. That is why the U-boat campaign required the support 
of all classes that expected the victory of our Fatherland. Every 
doubt of its success must strengthen the enemy's view that we would 
soon tire. 

But the political leaders had already done all in their power to 
undermine confidence; and their fear that this kind of warfare might 
assume forms which would burden us with new enemies had affected 
timid souls, and it was bound to have a depressing effect if doubts 
of the final outcome were allowed to appear; should expectations 
not be fulfilled exactly within the periods mentioned by the 
Naval Staff. The enemy took full advantage of the discourage- 
ment thus aroused, when these people despaired of attaining the 
desired end ; his courage and resolution to hold out were strengthened 
by it. It is a great pity that the calculations of the Naval Staff 
were published throughout the country; they had assumed the 
success of the U-boat campaign within a fixed period of time, and 
were meant for a narrow circle only. Many who would have held 
out but for this disappointment lost courage, realising that we had 
no choice and must bear the privations until success, which could 
not fail to come ultimately, was achieved. If the calculations of 
the Naval Staff had fixed too early a date for the effects, and 
it had taken a much longer time until England could not stand 
any further destruction of her merchant ships, even then no other 
choice would have been left us but to make use of these means. 
The refusal of our peace proposal had so clearly demonstrated 
the enemy's desire to destroy us that no one would have been 
prepared, in view of the general situation at the end of the year 1916, 
to accept a humiliating peace. 

The strategic offensive passed definitely to the Navy on 
February i, 1917. U-boats and the Fleet supplemented one another 
to form one weapon, which was to be used in an energetic attack 
on England's might. Our Fleet became the hilt of the weapon! 
whose sharp blade was the U-boat. The Fleet thus commenced its| 
main activities during the war to maintain and defend the new fomi 
of warfare against the English Fleet. 

The English defence consisted in combating the U-boats in hom« 


The U-boat Campaign 

waters, and to this we could oppose nothing but the skill of the 
U-boats in evading the enemy. This skiirnever failed to the very 
end, although our losses grew heavy. 

Our enemies had to go farther to defend themselves against 
the danger, and had to try to crush it at its source. Only our Fleet 
could make such efforts fruitless. It had to be in a constant state 
of readiness to meet the English Fleet in battle ; there was no other 
way. It expected this battle, and had to maintain its strength as 
much as possible, so as to be fit to cope with the enemy. That is 
why our Fleet might not weaken itself in view of this last demand 
that would in all probability be made upon its strength. It found 
plenty of continued and exacting occupation in combating the means 
that England had devised to prevent the U-boats from getting out. 

The conduct of the U-boat campaign was less a question of the 
number of boats than one of their peculiar qualities — ^their invisibility 
and their submersibility. The former enables them to attack un- 
expectedly, the latter to escape the pursuit of the enemy. It goes 
without saying that more can be achieved with loo boats than with 
20. But when the Naval Staff was considering the prospects 
of a U-boat campaign the first question was to determine the 
minimum number of boats that would suffice. Moreover, the U-boat 
campaign's effect was not confined to that of actual sinkings; it 
did much by disturbing and scaring away trade. Its results were 
soon perceptible, as it became necessary to regulate traffic according 
to the ports and districts threatened by U-boats for the time being. 
'Very considerable disturbances in supply and delivery must have 
been caused, if it suddenly became necessary to alter all the arrange- 
ments for traffic, e.g. if railway transport had to be shifted, when 
ports on the south or west coast of England received no supplies from 
abroad, because all the ships had to be taken to ports in the north 
and east. 

The number of boats we were able to use in the war against 
commerce at the beginning of 1915 was abo ut 24^ ; for the first months 
the new boats built just about covered the losses. It had also become 
necessary to provide several boats for the U-boat school, so that 
crews could be trained for the many new boats that were being built. 
With these 24 boats it was only possible to occupy permanently 
three or four stations on the main traffic route of English commerce. 
The tonnage sunk during the whole year of 1915 equalled the 
tonnage sunk in only six weeks when the unrestricted U-boat 
campaign was opened. In view of the attitude of conciliation 




Germany's High Sea Fleet 

^ adc^ted towards the complaints of neutrals, it was premature to 

> b^in the U-boat campaign in 1915. It would have been better 

^^ to wait until the larger number ot bocUs, resulting from the intensive 

<1 building <^ 1915, guaranteed a favourable outcome — and then to 

<.. have persisted in the face of all objections. Had there been no 

c giving way in 1915^ the right moment to start the campaign — 

the beginning of 19 16 — would not have been missed. 




IN the year 1916, up to the time of the Battle of the Skagerrak, the 
following additions had been made to the U-boat fleet : 38 large 
U-boats, 7 large submarine minelayers, 34 U-B-boats. Two large 
submarine minelayers, 3 U-B-boats and 3 U-C-boats had still to 
undergo steam trials; 53 large U-boats, 10 large submarine mine- 
layers, 27 U-B-boats and 66 U-C-boats were under construction. 
Since the outbreak of war we had lost 21 large U-boats, i large 
submarine minelayer, 6 U-B-boats, 7 U-C-boats, and 2 U-B-boats 
had been handed over to the Bulgarian Government. The dis- 
tribution of all the U-boats was so arranged that half were under 
the orders of the Admirals of the Fleet, and of the rest one half 
were stationed in the Mediterranean, while the other half, the last 
quarter, were assigned to the Naval Corps in Flanders. For the 
sake of quick construction the new types of so-called " U-B "-boats 
and "U-C* -boats had been introduced, in addition to the main 
type of large U-boats similar to "U 19," the first one fitted with 
Diesel engines. 

The chief characteristics of the different types were as follows : 
"U 19," surface displacement, 650 tons; highest speed on the 
surface, 12 knots; under water, 9 knots; number of torpedoes, 9, of 
50 cm. calibre. Improvements were made in the type. From " U 40 " 
onwards the displacement was raised first to 700 tons, and from 
"U 80" onwards to 800 tons, the speed was raised to 17 knots on 
the surface, the number of torpedoes increased to 12, and from 
"U90" onwards to 16. The torpedo of 50 cm. calibre had an 
explosive charge of 200 kilos. The first large submarine minelayers 
were not armed with torpedoes. They had a displacement of 760 
tons, a surface speed of 9.5 knots, and under water 7.5 knots; they 
carried 34 to 36 mines. 

Of the U-B-boats, at first a small number with a displacement 
of 125 tons was built for use in Flanders, with four torpedoes, speed 
of 8.5 knots on the surface and 5.5 knots under water. The U-B-boat 
was then enlarged to 500 tons, with a speed on the surface of 12.5 
knots and of 7 under water. 


Germany's High Sea Fleet 

The U-C-boats were of a type designed both for minelaying 
and firing torpedoes. At first only a small number of these was 
built, with a displacement of 150 tons; ultimately the boats had a 
displacement of 400 tons, speed of 1 1 knots on the surface and 6.5 
under water. They carried 18 mines and could take four torpedoes. 

At the beginning the U-boats were armed with one 5 cm. 
gun as a defence against enemy submarines. But as their use was 
developed in the war, such various demands were made upon them 
that their armament had to be increased. One or two guns of 
8.8 cm. were placed on the U-boats, U-B-boats, and the U-C-boats; 
the submarine cruisers were in part armed with a gun of 15 cm. 

The majority of the large U-boats was assigned to the Fleei 
for use in the blockaded area west of England. The length of their 
trips was 21 to 28 days, but this was also dependent on the amount 
of ammunition used when the boats had found a favourable oppor- 
tunity to fire their torpedoes soon after leaving port. The big 
minelayers were also under the command of the Fleet, and could 
be sent on distant expeditions — to the White Sea or to the 

The U-B-boats, being rather smaller, had proved to be very 
handy and quickly submersible, although they could not remain so 
long at sea. They were, therefore, mainly assigned to the base ir 
Flanders, as were the U-C-boats, of which a small number, how- 
ever, was at the disposal of the Fleet and used> for laying mines on 
the east coast of England. The distribution of the boats among the 
various bases was carried out according to the facilities the latter 
had for repairing the boats on their return from expeditions. The 
large amount of technical apparatus in a U-boat required very care- 
ful overhauling and repair on her return from an expedtition ; also 
the damage due to the voyage or to enemy attacks had to be repaired, 
Generally speaking, after four weeks at sea a boat would need to litj 
in the dockyard for the same length of time for repairs. Tht 
Imperial dockyard at Wilhelmshaven had been enlarged and was the 
chief place to which the U-boats of the Fleet were sent for repair, 
The docks at Kiel and Danzig were needed for other purposes; 
the bases at Zeebrugge and Pola were used at first mainly for over- 
hauling the boats. Until these dockyards had been altered so as tc 
be able to undertake more extensive work the boats which belonged 
there had to return home for important repairs. 

When the U-boat campaign was opened on February 1, 191 7, 


Our U-boats and their Method of Warfare 

there were 57 boats already in the North Sea. The officer command- 
ing the Baltic district had eight assigned to him, the Naval Corps 
in Flanders had ait its disposal 38, and the stations in the Mediter- 
ranean 31 U-boats of different types. The favourable experiences 
of the commercial U-boat U-Deutschland had led to the construction 
of U-cruisers, of which the first series had a displacement of 1,200 
tons, which was later on raised to 2,000 and more. When they could 
no longer be used for trade purposes the commercial U-boats were 
taken over by the Navy and altered for use as warships. They were 
fitted with two guns of 15 cm. calibre and two torpedo tubes, and 
could carry about 30 torpedoes in accordance with the extended 
period during which they could be used on cruises, cruises which 
reached as far as the Azores and lasted up to three months. With 
this fleet of U-boats the Navy was well equipped to do justice to the 
task assigned to it, although England had used the whole of 1916 to 
develop her defence. The sinkings of the year 1917 prove this. 
They were : 




























































„ ♦ 



The enemy's defence consisted, firstly, in directly combating the 
U-boats, and, secondly, in special measures which England adopted 


Germany's High Sea Fleet 

to counterbalance the loss of tonnage. The first impediment our 
U-boats had to overcome — I am speaking of the activities of the 
U-boats assigned to the Fleet (the same applies to the Flanders 
boats), whereas those in the Mediterranean mostly worked under 
less diflScult conditions—lay in the minefields blocking the North 
Sea. To deal successfully with these the Fleet had had to create a 
special organisation. In addition to the actual mine-sweepers, whose 
work it was to keep certain paths through the belt of mines clear^ 
special convoying flotillas had been formed, fitted with mine- 
sweeping apparatus, which accompanied the U-boats along the routes 
that had been cleared, till they reached the open sea, and met them 
at the same spot on their return from their fields of operation to 
take them safely home again. When attacking steamers the boats 
had to reckon with their armament, for in spite of the large number 
of guns required and the crews to man them, nearly the whole 
of the English Merchant Fleet — at any rate all the more valuable 
steamers — ^was armed. 

As a further defence, besides the destroyers which were excellently 
suited to this purpose and were armed with depth charges, a large 
number of new kinds of boats with shallow draft had been built 
especially to combat the U-boats. Nets and all sorts of wire entangle- 
ments hindered the U-boats in their work near the English coast. 
The so-called "Q "-boats, intended to serve as traps for submarines, 
were specially fitted out; they presented the appearance of neutral 
ships, and on the approach of the U-boat let. fall their disguise and 
attempted to destroy it with guns and explosives. The practice of 
gathering considerable numbers of British merchantmen together 
and convoying them added greatly to the diflSculties the U-boat 
encountered in achieving success; these ships were protected 
according to their size and value either by light craft or by bigger 

During the first months of the U-boat campaign I never missed 
an opportunity of hearing the story of his experiences and adventures 
direct from the lips of the commander of a returning U-boat; and 
thus I had opportunity to form an idea of the perseverance, courage 
and resolution of these young oflScers who won my highest 
admiration for the seamanship and the calm intrepidity, which they 
succeeded in communicating to the crew as well. It is a splendid 
testimonial to the spirit of the Navy that all who could possibly b^ 
considered suitable for the U-boat service, both officers and men, 
rushed to offer themselves. Even older Staff officer^, in spite of 


Our U-boats and their Method of Warfare 

their many years of servicei begged to be taken as commanders of 
U-boats, even if they had to serve under a flotilla commander 
younger than themselves. 

The three half*flotilIas into which the U-boats of the Fleet had 
been formed at the beginning of the war developed in time into 
four flotillas. Their commanders were: First U-Flotilla, Com- 
mander Pasgnay; Second U-Flotilla, Commander von Rosenberg; 
Third U-Flotilla, Lieutenant-Commander Forstmann (Walter) ; 
Fourth U-Flotilla, Commander Pranse. I should like to mention 
in connection with these Lieutenant-Commander Bartenbach, who 
was at the head of the U-flotilla in Flanders, who so often supported 
the enterprises of the Fleet with his boats. In an exemplary manner, 
despite all obstacles, he directed the difiicult operations of the Flan- 
ders boats, against which the British defence was particularly 
heavy. All who served with him were animated by a spirit of 
comradeship and readiness for action, which had the most refresh- 
ing and grateful effect upon anyone who spent any time with them. 

The Chief Director of the U-boats under the command of the 
Fleet was Captain Bauer; he himself took part in the fighting ex- 
peditions of the U-boats in the blockaded area round England, in 
order to be able to form his own opinion of the circumstances in 
which the boats under his command had to operate. It is his great 
merit that he recognised the capacity of the U-boat and brought it 
to that degree of efficiency to which its later successes are due. 
When, lat er on^ owing to the increasinj^ ^ctiyity_in construction, 
the numSer of U-boats grew to such an extent that their organi^gation 
far surpassed that required for a squadron and demanded a. corre- 
sponding increase, in authorit]iv Commodore Mlchelsen, who had 
hitherto commanded the torpedo-boats, was placed at the head. 
His great knowledge and experience of the department of torpedoes 
designated him as particularly suitable for this post, and he com- 
pletely fulfilled all expectations in this respect. 

The U-boat service was the one which suffered the heaviest %^ 
losses of the Navy ; the number of boats lost on fighting expeditions J^ 
amounted to 50 per cent. Alt(^ether 360 U-boats and U-boat \ ^7 
CRiisers were employed in the U-boat campaign, of which 184 were ^<^ ' >, 
lost in the course of their enterprises. This higgi^rcentage of losses ^^ ^'^'^''^ 
was for the most part d ue to t hedefence of the enemy, which grew < 
more and more vigorous, as he tried to get the better of the U-boat ^ 
danger by the use of all sorts of dodges and methods ; yet a large 
proportion is ascribable to the fact that our U-boat commanders ^ ^* 


Germany's High Sea Fleet 

could not resist the tempution, when sinking a steamer, to save 
the lives of those on board as far as possible, even though they so 
often met with disappointment. 

I should like to illustrate the diflSculties encountered by our 
U-boats by a few instances, quoting the official reports concerning 
them. But it would be impossible to do all the commanders equal 
justice, for they vied with each other in meeting the dangers which 
their difficult business involved, and with which the public are 
already familiar through various popular writings. 

The journey to America of the " U 53 " is a splendid testimonial 
to the perseverance of the crew and the high quality ot the material . 
On September 1 1 this U-boat received (K'ders to lie off the American 
coast about the time when the U-merchant boat Bremen was ex- 
pected to arrive at New London (North America), in order to search 
for and attack enemy ships which^ in all probability, would be wait- 
ing there for the submarine merchantman. After completing this 
task, the boat was to call at Newport, Rhode Island, but was to 
leave again after a few hours at most, so as to give the American 
authorities no excuse or occasion to detain her. There was to be no 
replenishment of supplies, with the possible exception of fresh 
victuals. If no enemy warships were met with, she was to carry 
on commercial war according to Prize Law off the American 

On September 17 the boat started on her outward voyage from 
Heligoland. In the North Sea she had very heavy weather. There 
was a S.S.W. gale and such high seas that the men on watch on the 
conning tower of the boat were up to their necks in water all the 

The supplies of the boat had had to be increased so as to make 
the voyage possible. Four ballast tanks were altered for use as fuel 
tanks, so that the oil supply was increased from 90 cb. m. to 150 
cb. m.; the supply of lubricating oil of 14}4 cb, m. was considered 
sufficient for the voyage. Added to this, there was the increase in 
fresh water and food supplies, so that the boat's draught was increased 
by 40 cm. So far as her sea-going qualities were concerned, her 
commander reported that the boat rode very steadily on the whole, 
but .that every sea went over her upper deck, even when the force of 
the wind was only 4; from almost every direction spray flew over 
the bridge. Consequently for those on duty on the bridge, the 
voyage, especially at first, was a tremendous strain. The commander 
did not think that the officers and petty officers would be able to stand 


Our U-boats and their Method of Warfare 

it (the rubber suits that had to be worn almost daily for the first 
fortnight were not watertight), and he would have turned back if 
the weather had not improved soon after September 24. 

The route for the voyage out had been chosen to run from the 
most northerly point of the Shetland Islands, which they passed 
on September 20, straight to the Newfoundland Bank, so as to 
remain on the northern side of the usual belt of low barometric 
pressure. Weather conditions were uncertain and changeable. There 
was often a very high and very steep swell, in which the boat 
pitched heavily. They, however, experienced following winds nearly 
all the time, which were favourable for the journey. After reaching 
the Newfoundland Bank, the boat was carried vigorously to the 
west by the Labrador current. On the whole the health of the crew 
was good, until they were nearing the Newfoundland Bank. Then 
a number were attacked with headache and sickness, which is said 
to be a common occurrence in these parts. 

On October 7 the boat lay before Long Island Sound. No war* 
ships were encountered. At 3 p.m. the commander entered the 
harbour of Newport, Rhode Island, accompanied by an American 
submarine, which had joined him on the way, and there he paid 
official visits to Admiral Knight and the commander of torpedo- 
boats, Admiral Cleaves. He wrote in his diary : 

"The former received me very coolly, and said that the Bremen, 
as far as he knew, had been sighted about 10 days before between 
Newfoundland and New York. [That was not correct, as the Bremen 
never reached America.] Admiral Knight obviously thought it most 
desirable that the ' U 53 ' should leave again the same evening. If 
I had not announced that such was my intention, I think I should 
have been given a pretty broad hint on the subject. 

"Admiral Cleaves was very friendly and much interested; he 
inquired about all particulars of the voyage. The adjutants of both 
admirals returned my visit. At 4.30 p.m. Admiral .Cleaves himself 
came to inspect the boat. I took him over her, as, earlier in the day, 
I had done several young officers. More than anything else the 
Diesel engines roused envious admiration. Many officers came on 
board with their ladies, as did civilians, reporters, and one photo- 
grapher. The crew received all sorts of little presents. At 5.30 p.m. 
we weighed anchor. Proceeded to sea at 6.30 p.m. Trial dive. 
Course, Nantucket Lightship; 270 revolutions— equivalent to 9 


Germany's High Sea Fleet 

Nantucket Lightship was reached on October 8 at 5.30 a.m. Very 
dear, calm weather prevailed. The commander decided to examine 
the merchant traffic outside territorial waters and to wage cruiser 

At this meeting-point of so many trade routes, the boat was able 
to stop seven steamers in the course of the day, and after the crews 
had in every case left the ship, she sank the British steamer Strath- 
dene from Glasgow (4,321 tons), the Norwegian steamer Chr. 
Knutsen (3,378 tons) with gasolene destined for London, the British 
steamer Westpoint (3,847 tons), the Dutch steamer Blommersdyk 
(4,850 tons), whose whole cargo consisted of absolute and conditional 
contraband. According to an American certificate, the Blommersdyk, 
before reaching her destination, was to call at Kirkwall (in the 
Orkney Islands, a British examining station for merchant steamer 
traffic). In his log the commander reports as follows: 

"Meanwhile, in this narrow space besides the two steamers — 
there was an English passenger boat as well, the Stefano, from 
Liverpool, 3,449 tons, which had already been stopped and was dis- 
embarking her crew — ^and the * U 53 ' sixteen American destroyers 
had assembled,^ so that we had to manoeuvre with the greatest care. 
While I was towing back the boat of the Blommersdyk, which had 
brought the officer with her papers, * U 53 ' got so near an American 
destroyer that we had to reverse with both engines to avoid a collision. 
We cleared one another by about 50 m. When reversing, I cast my 
tow loose, and her crew did not return to the Blommersdyk at all, 
but went straight on board a destroyer. I had told the officer that 
the crew would be given twenty-five minutes in which to disembark 
— till 6.30 P.M. To make sure that no one should be hurt, he was 
to haul down his flag to show that no one was left on board. Then 
I approached the passenger steamer to examine her papers, or, in 
case she had not yet lowered a boat, to dismiss her forthwith out of 
consideration for the passengers. I had already given orders for 
the signal, * You can proceed,' when I realised that the steamer had 
been abandoned and all on board accommodated on an American 
destroyer. I then returned to the Blommersdyk. By means of a 
siren and calling through a megaphone I made sure that no one was 
left on board. A destroyer which lay very near the steamer was 
asked by Morse signal to move away a little, so that the ship might 
be sunk. This the destroyer did at once. Hit with torpedo, a depth 
of 4 m. in hold 4. The steamer was then sunk by a second torpedo." 


Our U-boats and their Method of Warfare 

The passenger steamer Stefano was then also sunk. At 10.30 
P.M. the boat began her return voyage. Though it would have 
been very desirable to extend our activities off the American coast 
as long as possible, yet any further delay would have endangered the 
whole enterprise because of the fuel supply; for during the short 
stay at Newport, the boat, in accordance with the general instructions 
issued to her, had taken in no supplies of any kind. For the return 
voyage we counted on a consumption of fuel of 60 cb. m., and a 
certain reserve was allowed in the event of head winds and storms. 
That this precaution was necessary is proved by the fact that although 
the weather as far as the Shetlands was very favourable, the boat 
arrived at Heligoland with only 14.5 cb.m. of fuel. For the return 
voyage the longer route via Fastnet Rock was chosen. In so doing, 
the unsettled weather conditions that had been encountered in the 
higher latitudes on the voyage out were avoided; also on this 
southern side of the belt of low barometric pressure there was less 
fear of head winds than in the north. After waiting twenty hours at 
the S.E. corner of the Newfoundland Bank to weather a storm, the 
boat proceeded with little delay as far as the Hebrides, passing 
through an area of high pressure (770 mm.) accompanied by a steady 
west wind. The route then followed was round the Shetland Islands. 
On October 28, at 3 p.m., the boat entered the harbour at Heligoland. 
It had covered a distance of 7»55o sea miles and had only stopped 
once for two and a half hours in Newport. When the boat arrived 
at Wilhelmshaven next day, I was able to assure myself by personal 
observation that all her crew were in excellent condition. They 
might well be proud of their eminent, seaman-like, and technical 

Let us follow this same Lieut.-Commander Rose on his " U 53 " 
on a cruise, during which he waged war according to Prize Law, 
as still had to be done in January, in pursuance of the instructions 
issued, before the introduction of the unrestricted U-boat campaign. 
I will quote his log, omitting what is not of general interest : — 

^* January 20th, 1917. — Left Heligoland. Wind east, force 8, 
cloudless, clear. Route via Terschelling Lightship to Nordhinder 

** January 2isi. — Sank to the bottom, 38 m. Conversation (by 
submarine telephone) with * U 55.' 6.30 p.m., dark, starless night, 
wind east, 3-4. Started on normal course. 

** January 22nd. — 11 a.m. Sank French sailing ship 'Anna (150 


Germany's High Sea Fleet 

gr.t.) by thirteen rounds of gun-fire; cargo, road-metalling. 9 P.M-, 
South of Lizard Head. * U 55 ' reports station. As the presence 
of U-boats in the Channel is thereby betrayed, tried to report on 
own station and intentions (valuable for * U 55 '). Immediately 
after heard very loud British convoy signals and then the warning, 
* German submarine 37 miles south of Lizard.' That could only 
apply to * U 53.' 1 1.40 P.M., south of the Wolf Rock, two ships with 
many lights, little way, and changing courses at a distance of about 6 
sea miles from one another. Apparently guiding ships to show 
entrance to Channel. After prolonged observation, steered west 
between the two. 

^* January 23, 12.5 a.m. — A big cargo steamer approaching with 
a course of go degrees. At some distance behind several lights; 
probably one of the expected convoys. Two officers of mercantile 
marine who are on board think the ship to be British of about 
4,500 gr.t. She is fully laden. Started attack on surface. At first 
attempt a miss, at second a hit, port amidships. The steamer stops, 
sinks lower, gets a list, keeps on burning blue lights, then lowers 
boats. Left soon as further action impossible. Did not observe the 
sinking of the badly damaged ship. Passed several guardships with 
dififerent lights. One of them on a course towards the scene of 
disaster. Let her searchlight play there for a short time. The 
guiding ships have gone on or put out their lights. 

"6.40 A.M. — ^A steamer with bright lights and funnels lit up steers 
a zigzag course. She seems to be waiting. Sent Morse message to 
steamer in English. She is Dutch, with oilcake for Rotterdam. 
Dismissed steamer before dawn. 

"2 P.M. — Avoided a * Foxglove ' (new type of British U-boat 
chaser) and the steamer accompanying it. 

"11 P.M. — Avoided a guardship. She carried steamer lights on 
forestay to appear bigger. 

** January 24. — 12 midnight. A smaller steamer, arranged for 
carrying passengers, steers 200 degrees. Flag illuminated, but not 
recognisable. Obviously a neutral. Sheered off. 

"7 A.M. — A steamer, course 250 degrees, approached, pretend- 
ing to be a French outpost ship. She is a neutral tank steamer. 
Sheered off. 

"8.30 A.M. — Wind east, but swell ; cloudy in parts, visibility good. 
Dived on account of an airship approaching from the east; it may 
be a captive balloon broken loose. Voyage under water to the neigh- 
bourhood of Ushant (French island at the western end of the Channel). 


Our U-boats and their Method of Warfare 



2 P.M. — ^Wind cast, force 7-8. Rose to surface. 
3.15 P.M. — Small sailing ship in sight in southerly direction. 
Owing to high seas, no opportunity to attack- 

" 10 P.M. — Wind east, 6-7, swell. Absolutely impossible to fire 
at night. A lot of water comes over. Dived. Voyage to 
presumptive meeting, place near Ushant. 

"January 25, 6.30 A.M. — ^Wind south-east, force 7-8, posi- 
tion Ushant, 50 sea miles to east. Hove to. Waiting off Ushant. 
A small sailing ship about 30 sea miles west of Ushant. Left her 
unmolested because of heavy sea. Not possible to fire at night 
because of high seas. Visibility bad, therefore dived for night 

^* January 26. — Weather unchanged. Dived for night journey. 

* January 27, 3 A.M. — Wind east, force 8. Visibility bad. Snow 
from II A.M. Boat rolls more and more. Depth 34 m. Position not 
fixed. Stood out to sea at low speed. 

"5 P.M. — ^North of Ushant. Wind, force lo,* swell. Sighted 
large steamer of about 200 tons, so far as can be seen, armed fore 
and aft. Gave way, as impossible to fire at the time and no improve- 
ment in weather to be expected for next few hours. Steamer going 
slow; was painted grey. Apparently one of bigger guardships. 
Dived for night journey. 

** January 28, 8 a.m. — Came to surface north of Ushant. Wind 
E.S.E., force 6. 

"6.30 P.M. — Inspected Spanish steamer Nueva Montana, of San- 
tander, 2,000 gr.t., from under water, then stopped her witli shot. 
Cargo, iron ore to Newcastle. Crew on board took boats in tow. 
Set fire to three explosive bombs in engine-room. Steamer sinks 
slowly, deeper and deeper. As all buoyancy chamEers are con- 
nected, her sinking only a matter of time. When last seen, the swell 
was pouring over the after part of the ship. Took crew as far as 
12 sea miles west of Ushant; left boats there. 

"January 29, 7 a.m. — Danish steamer Copenhagen; cargo, coal 
from Newcastle to Huelva. Examined and dismissed. 

"6 P.M. — Steamer Algorta, 2,100 gr.t., from Segund with iron 
ore for Stockton. Inspected from under water, then stopped by shot. 
Took crew in tow. Sank steamer with four explosive bombs. 

"10.15 P.M. — Cast oflF boats in neighbourhood of medium-sized 
steamer steering about 240 degrees. Called up steamer by star shell. 

• Force 10 is a heavy gale. Force of wind indicated according to Beaufort's 
scale, from o a calm to la » hurricane. 


Germany's High Sea Fleet 

** January 30. — Course, 340 degrees. Intend activity for next two 
days in neighbourhood of Scilly Isles. Nothing in sight. At dusk, 
south of Scilly Isles, steamed on towards Lizard, distance 8 sea 
miles. Encountered no commercial traffic, only guardships south- 
west and west of the Scillys. 

'^January 31, 9 a. M.--S tipped Dutch steamer Boomberg, about 
1,600 gr.t. Coal from CardifF for Las Palmas; dismissed her. 

''10 A.M. — Stopped Spanish steamer Lorida, about 1,600 gr.t 
Cargo, coal from Cardiff to Cadiz. Dismissed her. 

**2.30 P.M. — Stopped Norwegian steamer HickUif 524 gr.t. Cargo, 
pit props for Cardiff. Set steamer on fire. Crew sails for Scilly 

"5.30 P.M. — Stopped a smallish steamer, steering 175 degrees, 
coming from astern. Steamer returns fire at 80 hectometres from gun 
of at least 8 cm. calibre. Her shots fall short, but are well aimed. 

"6 P.M. — Ceased gunfire after about forty rounds. Distance in- 
creased to bounds of visibility, then tried to keep touch at full ^>eed. 
In dusk steamer gets out of sight and cannot be found again. 

"11.50 P.M. — Weather calmer, bright moon. Clear. Stopped 
Danish motor-boat Falsiria, about 4,000 gr.t., from Far East via 
Dartmouth. Ship in order; ship dismissed. 

*^ February i. — West of Ushant. Steamed all day over field of 
search ; nothing in sight. 

^^ February 2, 5 a.m. — Attacked with bronze torpedo a large fully- 
laden steamer, about 2,000 t., steering 170 degrees. No marks of 
neutrality. Hit amidships. Steamer stops; lights go out. No 
movement or work discernible on deck. After half an hour steamer 
still afloat. Will probably sink, as she is badly damaged. 

"4 P.M. — Near Bishop Rock stopped a French old square-rigged 
schooner, Anna Maria, from St. Malo, about 150 gr.t., by using 
signal ' Abandon ship.* After a time the mate came on board 
in a little rowing boat without a keel. The crew try with boots 
and cups to keep the boat more or less dry. In consideration of 
the impossibility of rescuing the crew in this boat, the ship was 
allowed to continue her journey. The mate gave a written promise 
in the name of the crew not to go to sea any more during this war. 
The cargo of the ship consisted of salt and wine. 

''February 3. — West of the Scillys. Wind east, force 2. 8 a.m., 
stopped Norwegian steamer Rio de Janeiro, 2,800 gr.t. Wheat, 
linseed, oil cakes, tan for Copenhagen and Christiana. Steamer 


Our U-boats and their Method of Warfare 

**ii A.M. — Submarine attack on American steamer Housatonic, 
2,443 t. Then rose to surface and stopped steamer. Cargo 3,862 
tons of wheat from New York for London. Fired bronze torpedo 
from first tube to sink steamer. The torpedo slips half out of the 
tube without leaving it. It starts to go, and we can hear the 
engine running slowly. The boat is stopped. Watertight doors 
closed. After some time detonation under the boat, without any 
turmoil of water or column of smoke. The torpedo has left the 
tube and obviously sunk and exploded at the bottom, at a depth 
of no m. A few rising air bubbles indicate that the airchamber 
must have separated owing to pressure as the depth of water in- 
creased. Steamer sunk by bronze torpedo from 4th tube. Took 
boats in tow and handed them over to a guardship which was called 
up by two shots. When retreating from the guardship, which 
came up at once, we met * U 60.' * U 60 ' dives. I intend to draw 
the guardship past * U 60.' Guardship sheers off, rescues crew of 
American boats which * U 53 * asked her by wireless to do. * U 60' 
dives. Exchange of reports with * U 60.' 

** February 4, 12.5 a.m. — With gunfire and explosive bombs 
sank French barque Aimie Marie, from St. Servant, 327 gr.t. ; 
cargo, salt and wine for home port. Crew rows to Scilly Isles. 
Owing to the extraordinary lightness of the night, avoided darkened 
guardships. Meeting and exchange of reports with * U 83.' 

10 A.M. — Sank with two explosive bombs schooner Bangpuhtis, 
from Windau, 259 gr. t., and ballast from St. Nazaire for Cardiff. 
Crew sails for Scilly Islands. 

"4 P.M. — Examined Norwegian three-master Manicia, 1,800 gr.t., 
from Rosano with linseed for Rotterdam, and dismissed her. Ship 
at sea since December i. 

"February 5, 12.30 a.m. — Wind east, estimated force, 5-6. 
Surface attack on steamer on which all except navigating lights 
are out, no lights as distinguishing marks, estimated at 3,000 gr.t. 
Armament cannot be discerned. On attacking became convinced 
that size of steamer has been over-estimated. When sheering off 
recognise Swedish distinguishing marks. Stop steamer by white 
star-shell and Morse lamp signals. Steamer answers no signal 
and makes no other sign. After a time steams at full speed out 
to sea. Stopped anew by two shots. She does not answer Morse 
signals. Circled round steamer till dawn. By daylight found she 
was steamer Bravalla, 1,519 gr.t. By flag-signals she announced 
her port of destination as Liverpool, cargo, nuts. If sunk at that 


Germany^s High Sea Fleet 

spot crew would have been lost. Impossible to tow boats owing 
to high seas. Therefore gave steamer signal * Follow.' Further 
signals giving exact instructions as to behaviour when ship was 
to be sunk later on, were cut off because as soon as she understood 
the first words ' I am going to sink you/ she hauled down the 
answering signal and took np further notice. On the way I had to 
force the steamer to obedience again, as she tried to sheer off. The 
sea gradually decreases. Shelter owing to neighbourhood of land 
perceptible. A guardship is sighted. Signal to Bravalla, * Abandon 
ship.' She does nothing. Not till four minutes later, when the 
gun is trained on her, does she hoist the answering signal. A 
shot before her bows, then one in her forecastle. Steamer lowers 
boats. Ceased fire. When the boats had hove to, opened fire 
again. Difficult to aim owing to rolling of boat and target. There 
is a very heavy hail squall. Steamer hit several times, but does 
not sink. Although no one is left on board the engines keep going 
with fewer revolutions. Guardship approaches to a distance of about 
40 hectometres, opens fire : dived. Sank steamer by a torpedo, 
guardship meanwhile rescued Swedish crew." 

And so on. These extracts should suffice to show under what 
difficulties the boats worked so long as they had to consider the 
neutrality of steamers, and it also shows how many opportunities for 
sinking ships in the blockaded areas were lost. 

To illustrate other kinds of U-boat activities in the restricted 
U-boat campaign, we will quote from other logs. The first extract 
is from the log of a U-C-boat that had orders to lay mines along 
the east coast of England. 

** December 13, 1916. — ^Various vessels to be seen ahead, among 
them one lying with lights out, which I took to be a destroyer. 
Dived to avoid danger. Brc^e through guard-line under water. 

"9.25 A.M. — Rose to surface. Continued journey on surface. 
Sighted several steamers which, coming from the south, seemed 
to be making for the same point as I. It gradually grew very 
misty, which made it impossible to fix position. Presumed we were 
near land, as the sea grew calm, the water was dirty yellow in 
colour, and there was a strong smell of coal dust. After diving 
quickly several times to avoid steamers, continued under water 
270 degrees (course west). 

"i P.M. — ^Sighted strong surf on starboard bow. A wall was 


Our U-boats and their Method of Warfare 

dimly visible above, and over that a big factory, with several 
chimneys. At the same time the boat touched the bottom at lo m. 
Reversed course, and as I was quite uncertain of ship's position, 
resolved to rise to surface to get my bearings above water. Hardly 
opened hatch of conning tower when I see about 600 m. to port 
at 2.14 P.M. a large destroyer with three funnels and two masts, 
passing at about 20 knots on a course N.N.W. She seemed to have 
appeared quite suddenly out of the mist and not to have seen me 
yet. Dived to i6 m. 

"2.20 P.M. — As many steamers were in sight and visibility still 
bad, gave up intention of finding ship's position. Lay at the 
bottom, 23 m. water. Boat lay very unsteady; repeatedly heard 
the noise of screws above me. 

"5 P.M. — Dusk. Northerly swell. Rose to 10 m. As it was 
getting dark and no ships were to be seen, rose to surface to 
re-charge and pump in air; stood out to sea a bit. 

"5.42 P.M. — Several steamers coming from direction of land 
towards me. Dived. 

"6 P.M. — Very dark night. Rose to surface as darkness had 
fallen completely. The steamers were coming from west by south. 
So I concluded that the entrance to the harbour must be in the 
direction from which they came. The course led towards a darkened 
light, which now and then sent a ray up vertically. On approaching 
I see the end of the breakwater. The pilot thought he could 
recognise this as the entrance to the Tyne. As the night was 
very dark I decided to go close up to the breakwater. First I made 
for the northern breakwater; just before reaching it I turned to star- 
board so as to get a bit farther north. In so doing the boat ran 
aground north of the northern breakwater. Both engines reversed 
full steam. Boat slipped off. 

"6.42 P.M. — ^Turn^ hard-a-starboard to 160. Close to the end" 
of the northern breakwater the first mine dropped. Then turned 
slowly to starboard so as to get as near as possible to the southern 
breakwater. When this was in sight at a distance of about 
80—100 m., turned sharply, let the last mine fall and stood out to 
open sea, go degrees (course east)." 

How much more difficult it was for our U-boats to attack when 
the steamers travelled in convoys, appears from the following extract 
from the log of " U 82," commanded by Lieutenant-Commander 
Hans Adam : 

''September 19, 1917, 3.19 p.m. — I shot past the bows of this 

Germany's High Sea Fleet 

steamer towards steamers 4 and 5. Steamer 4 I hit. Steamer 2 had 
hoisted a red flag, which was probably to announce the presence of 
the boat ; for several torpedo-boats make for the steamer. As there 
was no chance of firing from the only remaining usable tube (stern 
tube) I dived. The destroyers dropped about 10 depth charges; 
one burst pretty near the stern. The attack was rendered very 
diflicult by the bad weather, swell, seaway 5 and rain squalls. The 
success of the attack was due to the excellent steering under water. 
Made off noiselessly to S.E. under water. 

"4.45 P.M. — Rose to surface. I try to come up with the convoy 
again, as it is still to be seen. But a destroyer forces me under 
water again. 

"6.37 P.M. — Rose to surface. Two destroyers prevent me from 
steaming up. Owing to heavy seas from S.E. it is impossible to 
proceed south so as to get ahead of them. Moreover, sea and 
swell make it impossible to fire a torpedo. Therefore gave up 

On July 19 and 20, 1918, two of our U-boats encountered a new 
and valuable steamer, the Justitia, of 32,120 tons, which was very 
strongly protected on account of its value, and which would 
accordingly be very diflicult to sink. The account of the attacks of 
the two boats, "U.B64" and "U54," is given below. "U-B64*' 
met the steamer on July 19 and damaged her severely, while "U 54 " 
encountered her the next day when she was being towed into port 
and finished her off. 

As the steamer Justitia, being new, was not on the register on 
board the U-boat, and the number of such large steamers is small, 
they thought she was the German steamer Vaterland which the 
Americans had rechristened Leviathan. 

'*July 19, 1918. 3.50 P.M. — ^Two destroyers in sight, course 320 
degrees (N.W.). Behind the destroyers a convoy. Boat situated 
straight before them. Attack prepared for double shot at steamer 
(3 funnels, 2 masts) situated in the middle of the convoy, which 
numbers about 12 steamers. Protection by destroyers and submarine 
chasers in large numbers. Convoy zig-zags. Shortly before the 
shot the steamer turns towards the boat, therefore only stem shot 
possible. Distance 350 m.; hit behind the bridge port side. 

"4.33 P.M. — British steamer Justitia, 32,120 tons in ballast. 
Dived. There ftJlow 35 depth charges, that are well placed. 

"5.20 P.M. — Depth II m. Steamer has stopped, blows off a lot 
of steam ; apparently hit in boiler or engine. Many destroyers to 


Our U-boats and their Method of Warfare 

protect her. Counter course for attack. Destroyers pass over the 
boat several times. 

"6.15 P.M. — Double shot from tubes I and' a; distance a,ooo m. 
Hit midships and astern, port side of steamer, which has stopped. 
Dived. 23 depth charges which follow immediately on shot. 

"7.3 P.M. — Rose to II metres depth so as to be able to look 
through periscope. Steamer has a list to port and is much down by 
the stern. Started new attack. As destroyers about all the time, 
cannot show periscope often. In the meantime, the steamer has been 
towed on a southerly course by large tugs. Steamer towed about 
3 — ^4 knots. With course 180 degrees (south) went ahead under water. 

**9.48 P.M. — Fired horn tube at distance 900 m. Hit on port side. 
Dived. On a course o degrees (north). 11 depth charges. Made 
off, as battery exhausted. 

"10.33 P.M. — Depth II m. Steamer being towed. List has in- 
creased, also lies lower in the water. 

"11.23 P.M. — Came to surface. Charged batteries. Reloaded 
bow tubes with two torpedoes. 

"11.50 P.M. — After the four hits, the steamer must undoubtedly 
go down. It is only a matter of time until the last watertight doors 
give way. Towing against the sea must make her engine break 
away soon. 

"/uly 20, 1918. — Before the North Channel (Irish Sea). Kept 
touch during the night, so as to be sure of observing sinking. As 
the condition of the steamer grew steadily worse, the course of the 
tow was altered towards morning to the south for Lough Swilly. 
Surface attack by night impossible because it was too light. 

"4 A.M. — As it was pretty dark and there was a jumble of ships, 
it was particularly difficult to get in right position for attack. Before 
'U-B64" was ready to attack, steamer was towed along again. 
Position very far aft. Steamer lay considerably lower. Batteries 
not in a condition for me to follow under water. 

"5.37 A^. — Depth of II m. Steamer lies athwart with consider- 
ably greater list. 

"8.40 A.M. — Rose to surface. U could now be ascertained that 
ihe depth charges had badly damaged oil bunkers, so that the boat 
left a broad track of oil. Steamer at the moment out of sight. Wire- 
less messages to boats in the neighbourhood. 

"11 A.M. — Steamer sighted to port on course 180 degrees. Hardly 
possible for her to reach the coast. Steamer with heavy list can 
barely be moved. 


Germany's High Sea Fleet 

"11.30 A.M, — Observed two high, clear columns of water, closely 
following one another, behind steamer; must come from two tor- 
pedoes. In boat detonation of 35 depth charges was heard. 

"2.15 P.M. — ^Steamer sunk. On looking round ascertain that many 
protecting vessels, with steamer's lifeboats in tow, are making for 
land. Other craft have rushed to the floating debris. Made ofif. 
Many destroyers in pursuit of me." 

" U 54," which fired two torpedoes at the Justitia on July 20 at 
1 1 .20, reports further : 

"11.32 A.M. — In the hail of depth charges that became more in- 
tense after the detonation of the first torpedo, of course no further 
detonation could be heard in the boat. After 122 seconds, the petty 
officer telegraphist noted the second hit through the submarine 
receiver. As I had only 2,200 amperes in the battery, I could not 
possibly make a further attack. I went down for half an hour and 
found bottom at 59 m. 20 minutes after the shot the British depth 
charges ceased to explode. 

"12.30 P.M. — Rose from bottom till I could use periscope on 
northerly course. Round about me, near by, many guardships. 
I immediately dived again. As I assumed they were following me 
with submarine sound receivers, I remained under water; continued 
till the large ship was safe. I proceeded north, then altered course 
to N.W. and then to west. 

"3.51 P.M. — Rose to surface. The boat had 50 mm. pressure. 
As letting off air took too long, I ordered the helmsman to open the 
conning^tower hatch. The helmsman was blown out, and the central 
conductor which has a sail attached below, was blown against my 
arm and crushed it against the top of the conning-tower. The pain 
was so great that I fainted for a m<Hnent. When I heard that the 
helmsman saw a number of ships, I crept on to the conning-tower 
and saw that south and astern was full of vessels. I attributed this 
activity to myself and dived away again, as I could no longer risk 
being seen. 

"6 P.M. — ^Rose to surface. Far in the south a smoke cloud. I ran 
farther west, and as soon as my batteries were pretty well charged 
I sent wirelcs messages to all U-boats giving course and possibilities 
of attack on Vaterland. There was no object in my following any 
longer, as I could not have caught her up before the North Channel. 

"July 21. 10.45 A.M.— U-boat in sight; ascertained to be 

276 • 

Our U-boats and their Method of Warfare 

* U-B64.' Approached within hailing distance. From exchange of 
experiences I learnt that the day before, at 2 hr. 30 mins. 4^^ sec, 
' U-B 64 ' saw the Vaterland sunk by my shot, capsising on port 

In conclusion, here is the description of a fight which ''U84," 
commanded by Lieutenant-Commander Rohr, had with a steamer 
which kept her guns hidden and hoped by deceiving the U-boat 
to be able to surprise and sink her : 

"'February 22, 191 7. i. so.-— Tank steamer, about 3,000 tons, 
with course 250 degrees, in sight. Dived. Torpedo fired from 
second tube; missed by 700 m.; had underestimated way. Steamer 
turns upon counter course. Went down. Rose to surface. Stopped 
her with gunfire. Steamer stops, blows off steam, crew leave the 
ship in two boats. 

"2.30 P.M.— Approached under water. No armament. Boats, 
about 8 — 10, are away from steamer. 

"2.49 P.M. — Rose to surface near boats which still try to pull away 
from U-boat, 

"2.49 P.M.— Steamer opens fire from four guns. Dive. Con- 
ning-tower hit five times : one shot through the bridge, one above 
the aerials, the third (4.7 cm.) goes through the conning-tower, 
explodes inside, nearly all apparatus destroyed. Second officer of 
the watch slightly wounded. Fourth shot smashed circulating water 
tubes; fifth shot hit a mine deflector. Abandoned conning-tower. 
Central hatch and speaking tube closed. As the conning-tower 
abandoned, the boat had to be worked from the central space below 
the conning-tower. The lifeboats throw depth charges to a depth 
of 20 m. Switch and main switchboard held in place by hand. 
Electric lamp over magnetic compass goes out. Boat is top-heavy 
and oscillates round the transverse axis [because the conning-tower 
was filled with water]. A number of connections between the con- 
ning-tower and hull do not remain watertight. Owing to short 
circuit the following fail in quick succession: gyrcMrompass, 
lamp-circuit [for lighting], main rudder, means of communication, 
forward horizontal rudder jams. In spite of being 14 degrees down 
by the stem and engines going full speed, the boat sinks by the bows 
to 40 m.; compressed air. To get rid of the water, rapid expulsion 
of air to 20 m. to 16 degrees to load aft. Tank No. i gets no 
compressed air. All hands in the bows to avoid breaking surface. 


Germany's High Sea Fleet 

Torpedo coxswain and No. i (petty officer) even counter-flood for- 
ward. Boat falls 8 degrees by the bow, and sinks to 35 m. depth. 
Compressed air on forward tanks. 

''Meanwhile the spray (from leaks in the conning-tower) is 
kept oflF the electric apparatus by sail-cloth, waterproofs, flags, etc. 
The watertight auxiliary switchboard is the saving of the boat. Boat 
sinks down by the stem again and threatens to break surface. 
Steering under water no longer possible. 

''3.10 P.H,— Compressed air on all tanks. Starboard electric 
engine breaks down. To the guns, clear oil motors, full speed 
ahead I '^ 

The commander decided, as the boat could not remain under 
water, to rise to the surface and chance fighting the steamer. 

"The steamer is 35 hm. off and opens fire at once. Shots all 
round the boat. One 7.5 and one 4.7 cm. shell hit the upper deck 
forward of the boat's 8-8 cm. gun. Second officer of the watch 
receives other slight wounds. Replied to fire, unfortunately with- 
out telescopic sight as the conning-tower is still full of water. 
Distance quickly increases to 50 hm. Then the steamer follows 
slowly. To starboard a destroyer which opens fire at 80 hm. ; 
shots fall short. Put on cork jackets. The intention is to con- 
tinue gunfire till the boat can be sunk in the neighbourhood of a 
sailing vessel 8 sea miles away, to save the crew from a Baralong 

"3.17 P.M. — ^The destroyer is a * Foxglove,' but cannot steam 
faster than the boat. At about 75 hm. replied to fire. The ' Fox- 
glove* soon begins to try and avoid shots; is hit twice, and 
increases the distance. Her guns only carry about 75 hm. 

**3.20 P.M. — Conning-tower can be made watertight; boat cleared; 
ammunition for gun cleared; except conning-tower, all damage can 
gradually be repaired. Course 165 degrees. The ' Foxglove ' follows 
in our wake. Steamer lost to view. At a pinch the boat can dive, 
but leaves a heavy oil track behind her. If no destroyer comes 
before night, the boat can be saved. 

"6.50 P.M.— The ' Foxglove * has approached to 70 hm. and opens 
fire again. Return fire : hit. Enemy sheers off and falls back to 
over 100 hm. 

"8 P.M. —Twilight. Pursuit out of sight. On liccount of oil 
track zig-zag course. Run into Another oil track, turned to port 
and gradually on course of 240 degreed." 

Our U-boats and their Method of Warfare 

The boat then began her return journey and reached home 
without further incident. 

I myself had occasion to inspect " U 84 " after her return from 
this expedition. I realised that it was little short of a miracle that, 
in spite of such heavy damage, she reached home. It was chiefly 
due to the assurance with which the commander handled hb boat, 
the perfect co-operation of the whole crew in these trying circum- 
stanceSy and the excellent practice made by the gunners, in con- 
necticm with which it must be remembered that the height of the 
platform of a JJ-hoai, on which the gun is mounted, is only 2 m. 
above the water-level, and that aiming is thereby rendered far more 
difficult. Lieutenant-Commander Rohr is, unfortunately, one of the 
many who have not returned from their voyages. 

It would take too much space to quote extracts from other U-boat 
experiences, or to mention the names of all those who particularly 
distinguished themselves. Wherever in this war heroism is spoken 
oU it applies without exception to our U-boat commanders and 
their crews. 




BESIDES the direct support of the U4)oat5 which operated from 
home bases, the Fleet supplied almost the whole personnel re- 
quired to commission the new boats. It was particularly important for 
the U*boats to have technical men who were well trained in seamen- 
ship. The commanders had to be officers who had sufficient experi- 
ence to navigate and handle the boats without assistance in the most 
difficult circumstances. TKat jneant m, big demand for officers of 
the watch y becauSe they, by age and seniority ^Meere best fitted for 
such service. The Fleet had to train men to take their places, so 
younger officers were promoted to be officers of the watch, and the 
training of midshipmen was accelerated. The substitutes for the 
latter were taken direct on botftd and received their training as naval 
. cadets with the Fleet. This entailed a very extensive shifting of 
all ranks which was bound to have a deleterious effect upon the 
efficiency of the ships. 

The project of a raid with the Fleet to the Hoofden in March, 
1917-, to attack the convoy traffic between England and Holland, 
never materialised. The weatl^r had been uninterruptedly bad up 
till March 11. By that time the clear nights were over, which were 
a necessary preliminary condition for the enterprise. The weather 
prospects grew worse, so that we could not rely on scouting from the 
air. A cruiser raid by night had also to be given^up, because it was 
reported from Heligoland that the wind (E.S.E., force 7-^) 
threatened to become worse. 

The second leading ship of the torpedo-boat fleet was sent with 
Flotillas VII and IX to the Baltic for training in mine-sweeping, as 
the mine-sweeping ditisTons did hot suffice for the work of escort- 
ing the U-boats as well as that of clearing the routes of mines. I 
considered, too, that Fleet manoeuvres tgp necessary, so that the 
new commanders njight become familiar with handling their ships 
in co-opemtion witlMhe rest of the Fleet. I could leave the^lib&ence 
of the North Sea for the time being to the cruisers, as it seemed 
improbable that the enemy would make an attack on the Bight. 

280 * 

The Fleet during the U-boat Campaign 

MeanwHile, the battleship Baden had been made ready as Fleet- 
Flagship, and the Commander-in-Chief of the Fleet had embarked 
in her. Flotillas III and IV could be spared from the North Sea, 
while the Fleet was at manoeuvres in the Baltic, and were sent to 
Flanders, where they could be put to better use, by carrying on the 
war in the Channel from Zeebrugge. 

The number of mines laid in the North Sea by the enemy grew 
steadily greater. Almost daily we suffered losses among the mine- 
sweeping craft, while among the ships used to escort the U-boats in 
their passage through the mine-fields there had been so many losses 
that in March the Fleet had only four such vessels at its disposal. 
The Secretary of State for the Imperial Navy was asked to raise 
the number to twelve again, so that they might suffice for the needs 
of the Fleet by working in four groups of three. 

While the battleships wei^ at sguaTlron practice in 4he Bight 
of Heligoland .on%Marck 5, the^ Kronprinz end the Grosser 
Kurfurst collided and suffered damage which in the case of 
both ships took several weeks to repair; before these were com- 
plete any considerable enterprise for the Fleet was not to be 
thought of. % 

While the Fleet was practising in the Baltic, on March 21, the 
cruiser Moewe reported her refl^rn in the Kattegat, and entered Kiel 
on the 22nd. During her cruise of four months she had sunk or 
captured twenty-seven ships, amounting to 123,444 ^o^^ g^^ss regis- 
tered tonnage. One of the prizes, the Yarrowdale, had been brought 
into Swinemunde on Etecember 31, 1916, and had conveyed news 
of the success of the Moewe, from wncxn we had heard nothing since 
she left at the end of November, 1916. The safe return of the 
successful ship was greeted with great joy. 

On March 29 the outpost boat Bismarck, leading ship of the 
special group commanded by Lieutenant Sohlieder, ran on a mme 
and sank ; only three of the crew could be saved. ' Their smart com- 
mander also lost his life. He had won great credit by driving 
submarines out of the Bight. 

To illustrate the demands that the U-boat ^mpaign made upon 
the Fleet, I quote below from the log of the High Sea Fleet, begin- 
ning with May 9, 1917; 

"4%r 9> I9I7'— Wind and weather in the cfcroan Bight, E. to 
N.N.E., force 3—4 ; weather fine and clear. Seaplane scouting in the 
Inner* German Bight without result. Mine-sweeping according to 


Germany's High Sea Fleet 

plan. Scouting Division IV protects the operations in the west. 
During mine-sweeping operations of the Ems outpost flotilla, the 
Metielkamp strikes a mine north of Borkum and sinks. 


" Returned from longKlistance trips ; • U 82/ * U-B aa, ' • U-B 21,' 
and ' U 93.' * U 93 • proceeded to sea on April 13, and up to April 
30 sank 27,400 tons. On April 30 had a struggle with a U-boat 
trap (iron-masted schooner), in the course of which the commander, 
Lieutenant<-Commander Vohr von Spiegel, the helmsman, and one 
petty officer were hurled overboard, and three men were badly 
wounded. The boat, badly damaged, unable to dive properly, and 
deprived of its wireless, is brought into List by Lieutenant Ziegler. 
' U 46 • is escorted to the north. * U 58 * reports position among 
mines accomplished; two steamers sunk, three damaged, in i degree 
longitude west ; a great deal of convoy traffic. 

" May 10.— Scouting by our seaptanes without result. No air- 
ship observation. Mine-sweeping according to plan. Scouting 
Division IV protects mine-sweeping operations in the west. H.M.S. 
Hindenburg commissioned. 


"' U-C 76,' while shipping mines in Heligoland harbour badly 
damaged by mine explosion and sunk. Among the missing is the 
commander, Lieutenant-Commander Barten. Salvage-boat Oberelbe 
goes from the Ems to Heligoland to give assistance. * U-C 77 * back 
from long-distance expedition ; * U 46 ' has passed the danger zone ; 
* U 30 * proceeded to the North via Terschelling. 

*^May II. — ^Wind E., force 4 — 5. Seaplane scouting; nothing sus- 
picious. No airship observation owing to easterly wind. Mine- 
sweeping according to plan. The half-flotilla occupied in sweeping 
mines from the route to the west, in following up a barrier of mines, 
has got north of its prescribed route. New mines are observed, and 
the leading boat of the 5th Half-Flotilla of mine-sweepers strikes a 
mine and sinks. Four men are missing. Among them the com- 
mander of the Half-Flotilla, Lieutenant-Commander Beste. As it 
has now been ascertained that the English have barred the approach 
from Horns Reef from N.W. by mines, the officer in command has 
received orders to lay mines which will bar the approach from north- 
east and from the west, so as to deprive the English of this meeting- 
point, which we can do without. A further barrier of mines north 


The Fleet during the U-boat Campaign 

of Tyl Lightship is to bar the way to mining operations against 
Nordmannstief. At night a group of barrier-breakers goes along 
the U-boat route down the Dutch coast to the west, and another 
group to the north. 


" * U 30 • passed danger zone ; * U 58 ' back from longdistance 
trip ; ' U 93' enters Wilhelmshaven towed by ' V 163/ 

**May 12. — ^Wind E,, force 6. Seaplane observation without 
result. Observation by airships impossible owing to weather con- 
ditions. Mine-sweeping only carried out to small extent owing to 
heavy sea. Scouting Division IV takes over protection of operations 
in the west. In the course of the morning, the two barrier-breaking 
groups return from night voyage. No incidents. A boat of the 
North Sea outpost flotilla reports an enemy submarine ; s^t the tor- 
pedo-boat half-flotillas at my disposal to search ; submarine ' kite ' 
exploded; result doubtful. 

*'May 13. — Wind N.W., force a. Mine-sweeping according to 
plan. Scouting Division IV on patrol in the west. At night the 
officer commanding the division, with the auxiliary minelayer Senta, 
lays the barrier of mines at Horns Reef and north of the Tyl Light- 
ship according to orders. 


**' U33 ' leaves for long-distance trip in the west, and * U-C 41 ' 
for the Bell Rock. 

"May 14. — ^Wind E. to N.N.E., force 3. For protective scout- 
ing * L 22 ' goes up to the west ; * L 23 * to the north. Mine-sweep- 
ing according to plan. Scouting Division II goes for protection of 
operations in the west to the Osterems. Thunderstorm, 6 p.m. The 
Stafl* of the Fleet embarks in H.M.S. Baden. High Sea Fleet war- 
ships clear. Scouting Division II., with two torpedo-boat leaders, 
assemble in the course of the evening in Schillig Roads, for the 
intended manoeuvres in the Bight on May 15. No communication 
from ' L 22 * since report that she had risen. Thunderstorms in the 
west. It is possible that she has taken in her wireless mast and can 
send no message. In the late afternoon thick fog over the whole 
Bight, consequently not possible to have search made by seaplanes 
or surface craft. Seaplane No* 859 noted an explosion and a cloud 
of smoke at 9.50 a.m. 

"7.40 P.M. — ^The leader of the airships reports that according to 
telephonic information from Borkum this observation is very prob- 


Germany's High Sea Fleet 

ably connected with the loss of • L 22/ A telegram arriving at night 
from the Admiralty confinns this statement. The probability is that 
on account of the thunderstorm * L 22 - had to remain below the level 
where the gas would completely fill the cells, and was shot down 
by British warships. 


"11.40 P.M.— Orion, one of the 3rd Mine-Sweeping Flotilla, 
reports that ' U 59,' which was being convoyed out to sea, and the 
mine-sweeper Fulda, have struck a mine and sunk. Outpost boats 
of the List Division, the mine-sweepers <rf the flotilla, and the 
17th Torpedo-Boat Half-Flotilla are sent out to meet the Orion. The 
boats receive orders at the same time to pick up *U-C5i ' and 
*U-C42,' which are west of Horns Reef on their return journey. 
* U-C 44 ' and * U-C 50 ' put out to sea to the west on a long-4istance 
trip. * U-C 5 1,' on return journey, reports position. Operations 
among mines completed; about 4,000 tons sunk; travels 5 knots only 
(nature of her damage not made out owing to defective wireless). 

''May 15.— Wind N.N.W., force 2—3. ' L 16 ' and ' L 37 ' go up 
for aerial observation. Thick f<^ forces them to return. Slight visi- 
bility at times only. The tactical manoeuvres in the Bight are there- 
fore postponed to the i6th ; the First Leader of the Torpedo-Boats 
reports that some of the ist Torpedo-Boat Flotilla, with auxiliary 
engines, have broken down, and that the rest are not fit for use 
outside the Bight. Consequently the ist Torpedo-Boat Flotilla 
is instantly dispatched to Riel for repairs. The officer in com- 
mand had sent ' U 59 ' to take note of the place of the accident ; 
the List Division of the North Sea Outpost Flotilla, a pump steamer, 
and a tug, to assist the Orion; and a torpedo half-flotilla to control 
the U-boat route out to sea. The reports of the boats sent to assist 
do not give a definite idea of the degree of danger to be apprehended 
from enemy mines in the north. While trying to get into com- 
munication with * U 59 ' by tapping, the outpost boat Heinrich 
Rathjen strikes a mine and sinks; missing, one petty ofiicer and 
three men. Officer in command receives orders for the time being 
to stop the work of breaking through the belt of mines in the west, 
and to clear or test the U-boat route out to sea in the north, with 
all craft at his disposal. In view of the interruption of the work 
of breaking through in the west, any considerable* enterprise of the 
Fleet must be postponed. I therefore decide, in order to make use 
of the time immediately after the evolutions, to send Squadron III, 


The Fleet during the U-boat Campaign 

and, on the return of Torpedo-Boat Flotilla II, Torpedo-Boat 
Flotilla V to the Baltic for manoeuvres. Both are badly in need of 


"*U-C42* and 'U-C51' return from long-distance trips. 

* U-C4I,' which put to sea on May 11 for the west coast, had to 
break oflF expedition owing to engine trouble. 

^^May 16. — ^Wind N.E. to N.N.W., force 3 — 6. Seaplane observa- 
tion without result. Airship observation impossible owing to fresh 
north-east wind. Tactical manoeuvres by the High Sea Fleet in the 
Bight of Heligoland. On completion, sent Squadron III to the 
Baltic. In the absence of Squadron Ilf, Squadrons I and IV to 
take outpost duty in turn. H.M.S. Kaiser sent to Kiel harbour for 
repairs. The officer in command of the Scouting Divisions to dis- 
cover the cause that led to the loss of ' U 59 * has ordered mine- 
sweeping flotilla to test and clear Squares 132, 117, 133, 116. One 
torpedo-boat half-flotilla is to sweep Squares 134 — 84. The 
auxiliary mine-sweeper flotilla is to mark the spot of 'Usq's' 
accident and try to get int6 communication with ' U 59 ' by tapping. 
In the course of these operations, ' M 14 ' strikes a mine, and in 
the attempt to save * M 14,' Torpedo-boat No. 78 does likewise. 
Both boats sink. The attempts to get into communication with 

* U 59 ' must consequently be abandoned. 


"In the night, * S 27 ' of the Ems Outpost Flotilla strikes a mine 
and sinks while convoying * U 86 ' on a long-distance trip to the 
west. • U 86 ' thereupon returns with the rest of the convoy to 
Borkum Roads. Wireless reports received : ' U 62 ' left on April 
21, position; in April 10,000 tons sunk; in May, 13,000; on April 
30 captured commander of U-boat trap ' Q 12.* ' U-C 55 * left 
April 28 for west coast, position. 'U40* left May 5. Mine- 
sweeping operations completed, two explosions heard, nothing sunk. 

* U 21 ' left April 19, position; 13,500 tons sunk * U-C 49 ' left 
May 2, position ; mines laid, 3,365 tons sunk. 

'^May 17. — Wind E. to E.N.E., force 3 — 6. No airship observa- 
tion. Seaplane scouting without result. Reports hitherto received 
about the mines laid by the enemy south of Horns Reef do not yet 
give a clear idea of the condition of affairs. It seems as if new 
enemy mines were lying south of the Senta barrier, direction east 
to west. Consequently, all efforts must be made to clear up the 


Germany's High Sea Fleet 

situation and keep this important waterway clear. It is once again 
apparent how short we are of mine-seekers and sweepers. We shall 
therefore once again approach the Admiralty and demand that the 
' M-boats ' (new mine-sweepers) that have been allocated to the 
Commander-in-Chief of the Baltic, should be handed over to the 
High Sea Fleet. As a substitute, we will offer boats of the North 
Sea Outpost Flotilla or trawlers of the Auxiliary Mine-sweeping 
Flotilla. To make the position of the lightship at List more reliable 
and easier fr<Mn the point of view of navigationi a buoy will be 
placed to mark the position which will be occupied at night by an 
outpost boat. Further, to help the U-boats on their outward voyage, 
a number of outpost boats are to cruise continually west of the 
position of the lightship. During the night two groups of barrier- 
breakers go out, one to the north and one from the Ems to the 


" * U-C 49 * and * U-C 41 ' back from long-distance trip ; * U 86 ' 
leaves under convoy for Flamborough Head; via Bruges comes a 
wireless report that * U-C 75 ' has sunk 3,500 tons and the English 
warship Lavender. Torpedo-Boat Half-Flotilla XVH puts to sea to 
meet the damaged * U-C 40 ' and to bring her home through the 
subsidiary waterway of Nordmannstief ." 

And so it went on from day to day. Owing to the pressure of 
the demands made upon them during the war, the organisation of 
the mine-sweepers was developed in the following manner : 

At the beginning of the war three mine-sweeping divisions 
existed and were stationed at Cuxhaven. Of these. Divisions I and 
III took up their activities in the North Sea and Division II in the 
Baltic. Each division consisted of a leading boat, eight sweepers 
and two — increased to four later — buoy-boats. (The buoy-boats 
marked the channels swept by the mine-sweepers for the groups of 
larger ships that followed.) The boats were without exception small, 
old torpedo-boats, of the class * V 30 ' and * 80.' Their speed was 
17 — 18 knots with a draught of 2.7 m., their armament one 5 cm. gun. 
In command of the flotillas were Commanders Bobsien and Wolf- 
soin; later the North Sea Auxiliary Mine-sweeper Flotilla under 
Commander Walter Krah was added. It consisted of trawlers and 
small torpedo-boats. 

At the end of 1915 and the beginning of 1916 the small old tor- 


The Fleet during the U-boat Campaign 

pedo-boats were gradually replaced by the "A "-boats and "U "- 
boats which had been built during the war. The " A "-boats had 
a speed of 23 — 25 knots, a draught of 1.9 to 2 m., a displacement of 
210 to 345 tons and an armament of two 8.8 cm. guns. The "M "- 
boats had a speed of 16 knots^ draught 2 to 2.2 m., displacement 
450 to 520 tons, armament three 8.8 cm. or two 10.5 cm. guns. 

On September i, 1916, the Mine-sweeper Divisions I and III 
were divided into the ist and 2nd9 and 5th and 6th Hatf-Flotillas 
respectively. On October 6, 1916, what had hitherto been Mine- 
sweeper Division II was divided into the 3rd and 4th Mine-sweeper 
Half-Flotillas. These Half*Flotillas were still grouped under their 
original Flotillas. 

In May, 1917, Mine-sweeper Flotillas I and III were both aug- 
mented by a third half^flotilla, consisting of "M "-boats. 

In June, 19179 Mine-sweeper Division II with the parent 
ship Ammon and ten motor-boats left the Baltic and joined the 
North Sea warships. These motor-boats ("F "-boats) have a speed 
of II knotSy draught i m., length 17.5 m., displacement 19 tons, 
and an armament of one machine gun. Later on, in January, 
19181 the Mine-sweeper Divisions III and IV formed the 3rd Mine- 
sweeper Flotilla. Mine^^sweeper Flotilla II was also augmented 
by a third Half-Flotilla — No. 9. The Auxiliary Mine-sweeper 
Flotilla of the North Sea was denominated from the beginning of 
1918 onwards Mine-sweeper Flotilla IV, and the trawlers of which 
it originally consisted were for the most part replaced by new mine^ 
boats. All the mine-seekers and mine-sweeper groups were then 
placed under the command of one officer, and Captain Nerger, 
well known as the commander of the auxiliary cruiser Wolf, was 
appointed to this post after his return from his cruise. Further 
formations were: Mine-sweeper Division II, consisting of the 
parent ship Ammon and twelve boats, and the Mine^sweeper Flotilla 
VI, one leading, boat and two half-flotillas, consisting of an ''M "- 
boat as parent ship, six boats, eleven " U-Z "-boats (small, fast 
motor-boats) and three large motor-boats. The "F-M "-boats (shal- 
low draught "M "-boats) had a speed of 14 knots, draught 1.3 m., 
displacement 170 tons, length 40 cm., and an armament of one 8.8 cm. 
grun. The "U-Z "-boats when towing their apparatus had a speed 
of 18 knots, draught 1.5 m., displacement 20 tons, length 26 — ^30 m., 
and an armament of one 5 cm. quick-firing gun. 

At the time the Armistice was concluded the following boats 
were available for the mine-sweeping service in the North Sea: 


■M««bi m^ 

Germany's High Sea Fleet 

17 torpedo-boats, 27 "U "-boats, 71 "M "-boats, 4 "F-M "-boats, 
23 trawlers, 58 motor-boats, and 23 "U-Z "-boats, 4 parent ships and 
a repair ship, whereas at the beginning of the war there were only 
33 small, old torpedo-boats available. 

At the beginning of the war we had three forms of mines, with 
a charge of from 70 to 150 kilos, capable of use at a depth of from 
go to 115 m. The newest of these existing types of mines could 
ultimately be used at depths of 345 m. During the war the fol- 
lowing types of mine were added : i . A defence mine against 
submarines, with a charge of 20 kilos and effective to a depth of 
OS m. ; 2. A mine in the form of a torpedo that could be shot out 
of a U-boat travelling under water, with a charge of 95 kilos, 
effective to a depth of 200 m.; 3, A mine to be laid by U-C-boats 
with a charge of 120 to 200 kilos, effective to a depth of 365 m. 
The U-C-boats could carry 12 to 18 mines; 4. A mine for the 
first big minelayers which, however, was not made after the con- 
struction of the U-C-boats. 

Mine-sweeping tackle was improved to such an extent that the 
area swept increased from 45 to 300 m. ; the depth to 30 m.; and 
the speed of sweeping, when the new boats were used, to 15 knots. 

As a defence against mines — in the first place for the mine- 
sweepers, and later destined for all classes of ships — special apparatus 
was invented. This was attached to the bows and was intended to 
cut the mine-cables before the boat struck the mine. It was found 
of great use. 

For defence against submarines a depth charge w*as made which 
could be thrown from a boat on to submerged submarines. The 
charge weighed about 50 kilos; it was detonated under water by 
an adjustable time fuse. 

In addition to this there was a submarine *'kite" with an ex- 
plosive charge of 12 kilos. It was towed by boats on a cable which 
served at the same time to indicate the direction of the current. 
It was electrically exploded as soon as the "kite," while being towed, 
struck a submarine. 

To keep off submarines nets of various kinds were made, which 
were moored to buoys to bar the submarine's path, and lighter nets, 
provided with gas buoys, which indicated the path of the boat and 
the spot where it bad broken through if a submarine ran against 
the net. 

The convoy service for U-boats demanded large numbers of 
light craft; about 100 torpedo-boats and smaller steamboats were 










\ 1 



The Fleet during the U-boat Campaign 

used for this purpose. They were divided into two convoy 
flotillas : 

1. Commanded by Commander Faulborn, consisted of three 
half-flotillas, each comprising two groups of five torpedo-boats. 

2. Commanded by Lieutenant-Commander Hoppensledt, con- 
sisted of six half-flotillas, each of ten to twelve steamboats. 

The mine-sweepers and convoying craft deserve great credit for 
making it possible for the U-boats to carry out their campaign. 
They suffered many losses which would otherwise have been inflicted 
on the U-boats. That, however, did not prevent them from per- 
forming their dangerous service year in and year out with the 
greatest trustworthiness in spite of the inclemency of the weather. 
The o£ficers and men of this service surpassed all others in .the 
Navy in their intrepidity and skill as seamen. 

The most successful part of the activities of the Fleet fell to 
the lot of the U-boats; the battleships, together with the cruisers 
and torpedo-boats, and especially the mine-sweepers, assisted in 
overcoming . the enemy's defence. Their efforts were primarily 
directed against the belt of min^s which England had laid in the 
North Sea to prevent our boats from getting out. The accompanying 
plan shows how the Bight was made to bristle with mines. 

It was impossible, in view of its great extent, to clear the whole 
area. We barely had sufficient ships to ascertain where mines were 
laid. Our efforts were confined to getting two or more paths through 
the mines, and keeping them clear ; one to the west, following the 
coast, one in the middle between Terschelling and Horns Reef, one 
to the north along the Danish coast. This last had the advantage 
of making it easier for the U-boats to find their way home on their 
return, as they could feel their way to the coast of Jutland while 
they were still outside the area sown with English mines, and seek 
the route that had been cleared, which led along the coast into the 
Bight. The route off the Dutch coast was the shortest for those boats 
v^rhich chose the Channel passage to get to their station west of 
the British Isles. It certainly was the shortest route, but also the 
most dangerous, because of the strong defence in the Channel, and 
the various obstacles there in the shape of nets and mines. These 
rleared paths had to be so wide that the boats could find them even 
in bad weather, when they were unable to determine their position 
,vith accuracy; and also they had to be wide enough to allow 
reedom of movement to the auxiliary boats which accompanied the 
nine-sweepers; for the mine-sweeping operations were in all proba- 
T 289 

Germany's High Sea Fleet 

bility observed by the English submarines, and if the cruisers in 
the auxiliary groups had only been able to move slowly up and 
down in the narrow area they would have presented an easy and 
welccHne target. Consequently we tried to keep a large basin free 
of mineSy situated to the rear of about the middle of the belt, so that 
it lay in a central position for all the routes. Even ithis did not 
guarantee absolute safety, so the boats were always accompanied 
by an escort capable of clearing away any mines which might after 
all be encountered. 

In July, 1917, the English had extended the area which they had 
announced to be mined, to the north up to the latitude of Hanstholm 
(north-west coast of Jutland), in the west as far as four degrees longi- 
tude east, in the south to 53 degrees latitude north. By this means 
the path which had to be kept clear by the boats of the High Sea 
Fleet was lengthened at the narrowest point by 20 to 25 sea miles. 

Up to the end of June, 1917, despite months and months of 
work, the mine-sweepers at our disposal had not succeeded in 
breaking through the old danger zone. The demands which, in 
consequence, were made upon the U-boat convoys — which had to 
take the U-boats through the mined area into free water — ^naturally 
impeded the actual mine-sweeping. In case of need, recourse miglu 
be had to the torpedo-boat flotillas, but, after all, they represented 
material as valuable as that which they were to protect; and in par- 
ticular the new boats had too much draught to pass through the 
mine^sown areas except at great risk. (The lighter the draught 
the less the danger (for the minesweepers, in the construction 
of which this point was particularly considered). The new boats 
constructed in the last months hardly made good the losses, 
and the number fixed by the commanders of the Fleet as the 
mfnimum required had not been attained. These clear routes were 
not needed for the U-boats alone, but also for communication 
between Rotterdam and the Elbe and Ems respectively. In the 
middle of July, 15 to 20 steamers lay at Rotterdam waiting for the 
word that they might safely cross. It was the Fleet's duty to 
guarantee that the waterway along the coast was free and to convoy 
the ships wiith outpost craft to safety. 

In spite of all the difficulties we managed to prevent anything 
from stopping the U-boats from going out. There were altogether 
very few days when for safety's sake we had to avoid the direct 
route into the North Sea and take the roundabout way through 
the North Baltic Canal and the Kattegat. The small loss of time 


The Fleet during the U-boat Campaign 

was of no importance compared with the increased safety that was 
thereby gained. As the boats could replenish their fuel supply 
in Kiel, they were able to stay in their field of operation for com- 
paratively a long time. But it was not unknown to the English 
that our boats used this way to get out, especially later when the 
U-cruiser flotilla had been formed at Kiel; these boats mostly 
took the route through the Kattegat for their outward and return 
voyages. That forced the Fleet to extend its mine-sweeping to 
the Kattegat, and to take counter measures when the English 
mines were laid from Skagen across to the Swedish coast. 

It is obvious on what a large scale English mine-laying was 
carried on, when it is considered that they set about mining the 
whole of the North Sea between the Shetland Islands and Norway. 
As we learnt afterwards it was chiefly American mines that were to 
be used and American craft to do the work. If they had really 
succeeded in sowing mines sufficiently thickly in that area the 
Fleet would have found it an exceedingly difiicult task to clear 
the necessary gaps there. However, the great depth of the water 
in this part of the North Sea made it possible for U-boats 
to avoid the barrier by travelling at a sufficient depth below the 
surface. So far as we could ascertain, we suffered no losses in 
U-boats from these mines. 

The boats, when going out, and before their return, reported 
their position, so that the commanders of the Fleet and the officers 
in command of the U-boats knew for certain that the first difficulties 
had been overcome, and that the boat was making for her actual 
field of operation ; or, as the ^ase might be, was on the homeward 
voyage aifter accomplishing her work. Thus it was possible to 
establish with great accuracy in what period of time boats that 
were missing must have met with misfortune. 

The Fleet considered it its most important task to place all its 
strength at the disposal of the U-boats on their outgoings and in- 
comings, so as to protect them from the dangers of this part of their 
voyage. Plenty more awaited them which they would have to 
cope with alone, once they were in their particular sphere of activity. 
This was essentially the point of view of the mine-sweepers; they 
suffered ever greater losses, yet did all that was possible to take 
upon themselves the main dangers that threatened the U-boats. 

In August, 1918, H.M. the Emperor announced his intention 
to visit the Fleet. Shortly before his visit there had been signs of 
insubordination among the crews of some of the ships of Squadron 


Germany's High Sea Fleet 

IV. (Prinzregent Luitpold and Friedrich der Grosse); this bore 
the character of mutiny^ but thanks to suitable measures taken by 
the officers it was nipped in the bud before it had assumed con- 
siderable dimensions or had injured the efficiency of the ships. 
Inquiry into the matter, however, revealed that behind these com- 
paratively unimportant outbreaks there lay a movement which must 
be taken very seriously, and which had as its aim the forcible 
paralyzing of the Fleet as soon as the political wire-pullers deemed 
the moment ripe. The judicial inquiry established the fact that 
there was a connection between the members of the Independent 
Social Democratic Party and the leaders of the movement in the 
Fleet. Their first aim was to get a sufficient number of the crews 
to allow their names to be put on lists which were to prove at the 
forthcoming. Congress at Stockholm that the crews at the front had 
grown weary of fighting and were ready to join in the pK)litical 
movement. This movemeat aimed at bringing the war to an end 
in all countries by overthrowing the existing forms of government. 
Very cleverly had the leaders sown discontent on certain ships; 
they had made the most of supposed abuses, especially in the 
rationing, and had not even shrunk from influencing their com- 
rades by threats of forcible measures. The whole network of the 
plot was laid bare and those who had stirred up the trouble were 
punished. In certain cases the court-martial pronounced sentence 
of death, which was carried out so far as the most guilty parties 
were concerned. Most of those implicated had not realised the con- 
sequences of joining the organisation; to many it had not even 
been explained. Compared with the total numbers of the crews, 
those who had joined the movement were very few. 

The great danger which lay in this unrest, stirred up in the 
Fleet by conscienceless agitators, could not be overlooked. Condi- 
tions on the big ships in particular unfortunately provided fruitful 
soil for such activities, as the crews were all the time in close 
communication with their homes and could, therefore, not be kept 
immune from the prevailing depression. These men performed tht 
same service on the big ships all the year round, and they lackeci 
the refreshing stimulus of meeting the enemy in battle. On the other 
hand, they had a daily supply of newspapers and pamphlets whicl 
teemed with war weariness and the condemnation of our war leaders 
Thus it was unhappily possible to influence their views and mak< 
them forgetful of their duty. 

The Secretary of State for the Navy arrived in Wilhelmshaver 


The Fleet during the U-boat Campaign 

on August 17, the day before the Emperor embarked. I made earnest 
representations to him that it was the duty of the Government to 
protect the Fleet from this Socialistic organisation, as otherwise the 
eflforts of the officers to shield the men from these disastrous in- 
fluences would be of no avail. Admiral von Capelle was very doubt- 
ful whether it was possible, with the sentiments then prevailing in 
the Reichstag, to call the leaders of a party to account for their 
political agitation which, so far as it was subversive of order, was 
carried on with the greatest circumspection. But he quite admitted 
the gravity of the situation and promised to see that the necessary 
protective measures were taken by the Imperial Government. He 
spoke to His Majesty to that effect the next day, after I had reported 
these incidents in the Fleet to him. Unfortunately at the discussions 
in the Reichstag, which followed shortly afterwards, it appeared 
that the Government was not sufficiently firm to take radical measures 
and secure the consent of the majority of the people's representatives 
to them. 

The Fleet had to depend entirely on its own efforts to shield the 
crews from the devastating influences which were brought to bear 
upon them. The best distraction certainly was active warfare. The 
crews had never refused to obey the call of this necessity; courage 
and the joy of battle still prevailed in their old, original form. They 
were so deeply rooted in the character of the German people that 
they could not cease at the first onslaught from without. 

The influence of enemy propaganda was turned to account by 
the Independent Social Democratic Party to achieve its own ends. 
It could be counteracted to some extent but not entirely removed, 
and its disastrous effects were apparent later. There is a widespread 
view that the crews had justifiable grounds for complaint in the 
differentiation in treatment between the officers and men; this is 
totally unfounded. Service on board makes at least the same de- 
mands on the officers, and indeed much greater demands, than on 
the majority of the members of the crew. On watch and on every 
other form of service, the proportionate number of officers is em- 
ployed with every group of men, and they have no alleviations as 
compared with the crew; on the contrary, they are much more 
exposed to the inclemency of the weather, and far greater demands 
are made upon their vigilance when at sea. Even in the unpleasant 
process of coaling, all the officers co-operate, and there is no dif- 
ference then between them and the men in respect of their "get-up" 
and their unavoidable condition of dirt. This practice, introduced 


Germany's High Sea Fleet 

in time of peace to attain the greatest possible efficiency in coaling, 
was of necessity continued during the war, when the unpleasant work 
of filling the Coal-bunkers had to be undertaken much oftener. 

His Majesty embarked in the flagship Baden, and took his first 
trip to sea during the war. On this occasion, he visited the Island 
of Helig(dand to inspect the fortifications and harbour works there. 
He landed again at Cuxhaven, where he spoke to the crews of the 
mme-sweeper flotillas, and was able to confer decorations upon some 
of the leaders and crews who had had a bru^ with enemy destroyers 
a few days before, in which they so successfully warded off the 
attack that we did not have to record the loss of a single boat. 





IN September, 1917, after the taking of Riga, the Supreme Army 
Command asked for the co-operation of the Fleet to conquer the 
Baltic Islands. This offered a welcome diversion from the monotony 
of the war in the North Sea. The Navy's task was to take a landing 
corps, consisting of a reinforced infantry division, under the orders 
of the General Officer of the 23rd Regimental Command, to Oesel, 
and to land them there. 

The right flank of the landing troops had to be protected from 
the sea by qpickly sending ships to the Gulf ot Riga; and the 
attack on the bridgehead of Orissa on the Island of Oesel, to make 
it possible to cross to the Island of Moon, had to be supported with 
all the means at our disposal. So long as the Straits of Irben were 
commanded by the heavy enemy guns at Zerch, the bays of the 
Island of Oesel in the Gulf of Riga were useless for landing. Con- 
sequently, the Bay of Tagga was chosen for the troops' disembarka- 
tion. This is the only bay in the north or west of Oesel that can 
hold a large number of transports and offer them protection from the 
west winds which prevail there in the autumn. 

After the warning example of the landing of the Franco-British 
army in Gallipoli in the spring of 1915, the attempt to carry the 
war on land overseas by the help of the Fleet had to be made with 
the greatest care, and such strong defensive measures were taken 
that a reverse appeared to be out of the question. We had to prepare 
ships for the transport of 23,000 men, 5,000 horses, and much 

The warships had to clear the approaches of mines, so that none 
of the transports with the troops on board might be lost, also to 
send flying-men to find out the position of the enemy before- 
hand, so as to ascertain the most favourable circumstances for the 
landing, which had to be a surprise. The Russians had reo^nised 
the danger which threatened them, and had tried to ward it off 
by placing batteries on Cape Handsort and Ninnast, at the two 


Germany's High Sea Fleet 

entrances to Tagga Bay. Heavy batteries had been strongly built 
on the peninsula of Sworbe, in the south of Oesel, some time 

The warships set aside for this undertaking were placed under 
the orders of Vice-Admiral Ehrhardt Schmidt, the Commander 
of Squadron I . He had a special Staff for the occasion, made up of 
oflScers of the Fleet and Admiralty Staffs. Captain von Levetzow 
was nominated Chief of the Staff; the battle-cruiser Moltke was 
the flagship. 

Under the orders of Admiral Schmidt were : Squadron HI — 
Vice-Admiral Behncke : Battleships Konig, Bayem, Grosser Kur- 
filrst, Kronprinz and Markgraf; Squadron IV — ^Vice-Admiral 
Souchon : Battleships FriedricR der Grosse, Konig Albert, Kaiserin, 
Prinzregent Luitpold and Kaiser; Scouting Division H, under 
Rear-Admiral von Reuter : Second and third class cruisers Konigs- 
burg, Karlsruhe, Nurnberg, Frankfurt, Danzig and the light 
cruisers of the Baltic Fleet, Kolberg, Strassburg and Augsberg, under 
Vice-Admiral Hopman. Commodore Heinrich was in command 
of the following torpedo-boats, he himself being on board the second- 
class cruiser Emden: Torpedo-Boat Flotilla II (Commander 
Heinecke) with lo boats; Torpedo-Boat Flotilla VI (Commander 
Tillesen) with a half-fiotilla ; Torpedo-Boat Flotilla VIII (Com- 
mander Nieden), with 1 1 boats ; further, the 7th Torpedo-Boat Half- 
Flotilla; the 13th Torpedo-Boat Half-Flotilla; Torpedo-Boat Flotilla 
IX (Commander Hundertmark) the latter with 1 1 boats ; besides these 
6 U-boats of the Kurland U Flotilla (Lieut. -Commander Heinrich 
Schott); Mine-Sweeper Flotilla II (Lieut-Commander Doflein); 
the Mine-Sweeper Division IV, and a half-flotilla of mine-seekers 
that numbered a little more than 60 motor-boats. In addition to 
these there was Captain von Rosenberg's flotilla, who had at his 
disposal 72 boats — trawlers, and other craft of similar size. Nineteen 
steamers were requisitioned as troop-transports, the tonnage of 
which amounted to 153,664 tons. 

The enterprise was first mooted on September 12. On October 9 
the troops embarked; on October 11 the transport fleet put to sea 
under the protection of the battleships and small cruisers. The pre- 
paratory work of mine-sweeping had been delayed By the bad 
weather during the end of September and beginning of October, 
so that those in command waited with impatience for operations 
to start. 

This delay was an advantage for the transports^ as it enabled 


The Conquest of the Baltic Islands 

us to drill the troops in embarkation and disembarkation, which 
materially facilitated the landing afterwards. The number of 
steamers was not sufficient to transport the troops and all the 
baggage in one journey; two echelons had to be formed. This 
circumstance also made it advisable not to start the expedition until 
the mine-sweeping operations in the Irben Straits were nearing their 
close, so that the second echelon might be transported in safety to 
Arensburg without running risks from submarines. 

The manifold preparations for the embarkation of the troops 
and for carrying out the operations on land in conjunction with the 
Fleet had been completed, and there had been the most exemplary 
harmony between the leaders of the Army and those of the Navy. 
Thanks to them, the conquest of the islands of Oesel, Moon and 
Dago was carried out according to plan, with the most perfect 

On October lo everything was in trim ; the fleet of transports 
lay ready in the naval port of Libau to proceed to sea ; the Moltke, 
with Squadrons III and IV, lay in the Bay of Danzig, behind the 
peninsula of Hela; the small cruisers and torpedo-boats were at 

The battleships were to silence the batteries at the entrance to 
the Bay of Tagga before the landing was effected, as well as to 
force the passage of the fortified straits between the islands of Dago 
and Oesel, and of Soelo Sound, which leads into the Kassar Wick. 
It was necesssary to command the Kassar Wick, which owing to 
the depth of the water can only be used by torpedo-boats, so as 
to secure the passage to Moon from the north, and to prevent 
Russian warships from leaving the Gulf of Riga and making for 
the north. 

The batteries of the Bay of Tagga were attacked by Squadron III 
and the Moltke; Squadron IV was to destroy the batteries on 
Sworbe. It was important to land an advance guard in Tagga Bay 
as soon as possible after the silencing of the batteries in the north, 
so as to occupy the coast-line and thereby ensure the safe passage 
of the main transport fleet. The warships and the transports left 
harbour on the morning of October ii. The night journey through 
the mine-field passed without incident. The lightships placed by 
the Rosenberg Flotilla marked the track that the search flotilla had 
reported clear of mines. It was not until towards midnight that 
a check in the advance occurred, which threatened to be critical; 
the leading squadron had approached so closely to the mine-sweeping 


Germany's High Sea Fleet 

flotilla that speed had to be slackened. At first the delay was 
accepted, but finally it was realised that by slackening speed the 
punctual landing of the advance guard would be jeopardised and 
at the same time the element of surprise, which underlay the whole 
undertaking, threatened to be lost. Consequently Admiral Schmidt 
gave orders to the mine-sweepers to remove their gear and make 
room for the Fleet ; he preferred taking the risk of negotiating the 
rest of the passage without the security afforded by the mine-sweepers 
to endangering the success of the whole entevprise. Fortune 
favoured this decision, for the Fleet succeeded without accident in 
reaching the positions from which the bombardment was to take 
place. They passed through a gap in the belt of mines right in 
front of the Bay of Tagga, the existence of ^ich was <Mily de- 
finitely ascertained later on. While taking up their positions to 
bombard the batteries on the Sound oi Soelo, the Bayem and the 
Grosser Kurfilrst struck mines, which, however, did not hinder 
them from completing their task. 

At 5.30 A.M. the landing was begun. It was a complete surprise 
to the enemy, and met with little opposition, which was quickly 
overcome by the fire of the torpedo-boats, supported by the troops. 
The disembarkation of the advance troops which were on board the 
ships of Squadron III, was carried out by the motor launches of 
the ships and three small steamers, one of which was the Corsica. 
The leader of the Torpedo-Boat Flotilla steamed ahead with his boats. 
The batteries at Hundsfort and Ninnast were quickly silenced and at 
8 A.M. in the hands of our troops. The TofTri battery on the southern 
point of Dago was destroyed by the Bayem and the Emden, Com- 
modore Heinrich's flagship. At 6.45 a.m. the transports received 
orders to enter the bay, and the disembarkation was proceeding apace 
at 10 A.M. On entering the bay, the steamer Corsica struck a mine. 
She was run aground and her crew taken on board by torpedo-boats 
and landed. This incident showed us that the main part of the 
Fleet must have passed in safety through a gap in the belt of mines. 

The second part of the Fleet's activities consisted in quickly 
penetrating into the Kassar Wick, and invading the Gulf of Riga. 
On the very day of the landing, Captain von Rosenberg, with his 
flotilla, had pushed through the Sound of Soelo, and so proved that 
it was navigable for torpedo-boats. Under the command of Com- 
modore Heinrich the boats of Flotilla II and of the 12th and 13th 
Half-Flotillas then drove the enemy back into the Moon Sound. In 
this they were supported and covered by the fire of the Kaiser and 


The CSonquest of the Baltic Islands 

the Emden, which lay before Soelo Sound. On this occasion, 
October 14, the destroyer Crrom was o^tured and a gunboat was 
sunk. We sufifered no losses in battle, but three boats were 
damaged was sunk by mines. In many cases boats ran 
aground in these badly surveyed waters, and in so doing injured 
the blades of their propellers. 

The boats of the Rosenberg Flotilla established communication 
with the bridgehead at Orissa, and this was maintained until the 
troops had crossed. The flotilla brought bread and munitions 
to the pioneers, and later on undertook their transport across to 

It was impossible for our light craft to push on into Moon Sound 
from the Kassar Wick, on account of the heavy guns of the Russian 
battleship Slava, which bombarded them from the south; conse- 
quently Moon Sound had to be taken from the south. For this 
purpose we had first to destroy the fortifications of Zerel. This 
task was assigned, on October 14, to the officer commanding Squad- 
ron IV, with the battleships Friedrich der Grosse, Konig Albert, 
and Kaiserin. The Russian batteries opened fire on them, and our 
ships returned it until darkness fell. The next morning the Russians 
had abandoned the position and destroyed the batteries. The land- 
ing troops had meanwhile continued their march towards Sworbe 
and Onesa. It was imperative that our ships should quickly pene- 
trate into the Gulf of Riga, so as to hold the Russians on the Island 
of Oesel and prevent them from crossing to Moon. The mine- 
sweeping operations in the Straits of Irben, conducted by Vice- 
Admiral Hopman, had made good progress by October 13, although 
they were under the fire of the batteries at Zerel, and came upon 
belt after belt of mines. But when there was danger that the 
Russians might retire too soon to Moon and thence to the main- 
land, the passage to Arensburg had to be forced. Vice-Admiral 
Behncke, commanding Squadron III, received orders to support 
Admiral Hopman 's light craft in this undertaking. Thanks to the 
energy of the officers, he carried these orders out with a celerity that 
surpassed all expectations. When Sworbe fell on the morning of 
the i6th, our warships lay before Arensburg, and on the evening of 
the same day before the southern extremity of Moon Sound. In this 
way our warships had completely surrounded the Island of Oesel, 
and made it impossible for the enemy, who had been driven by our 
troops to the south-east of the island, to escape by water. 

On the morning of October 17 Moon Sound was reached; the 


Germany's High Sea Fleet 

batteries there were destroyed, the Russian ships driven c^ to the 
north, and the Russian battleship Slava sunk. This success deserves 
the highest appreciation; it was gained under difficuh conditions, 
in waters bristling with mines. The officer commanding Squadron 
III particularly commended the conduct of the mine-sweepers, who 
worked admirably under heavy fire. 

While the commanding officer of Squadron III forced Moon 
Sound from the east, Admiral Hopman, with the Kolberg and the 
Strassburg, penetrated the Little Sound, ready to render the Army 
the assistance it required for crossing. In the night of October 
17-18 our troops crossed to Moon, and this island, too, was sur- 
rounded by our ships on the east, south, and north-west. It was 
no longer possible for the enemy to escape to the mainland. 

As the operations had been so successful, we proceeded to take 
Dago, which had not been included in the original plan. The 
Rosenberg Flotilla landed 300 men on the southern point of Dago, 
and occupied a bridgehead there for the subsequent landing of an 
infantry regiment. It maintained its position against attack until 
the troops arrived. For the conquest of Dago 3,700 men, 500 horses, 
140 wagons, and a field battery with munitions were landed, and the 
landing party from the flotilla was withdrawn. 

After Tagga Bay had been cleared of mines, an essentially 
necessary proceeding, the Fleet still had to perform the task of 
cutting off the Russian retreat from the north part of Moon Sound. 
Up till then this had been left to the U-boats. They received orders 
when Squadron III invaded the Gulf of Riga, to assemble before 
Moon Sound and to attack any Russians who should attempt to get 
out. " U-C 58 " torpedoed the armoured cruiser Bogatyr, and 
" U-C 60 " sank a transport steamer. It was not till October 18 
that the torpedo-boats could be withdrawn from the Kassar Wick, 
and the necessary mine-sweepers liberated, both being needful for 
the protection of big ships. 

On October 17 Squadron IV, with Scouting Division II, two 
torpedo-boat half-flotillas, and the necessary mine-sweepers, was 
to push forward to the northern exit of Moon Sound. But the 
weather made mine-sweeping impossible. Consequently the advance 
through the mine-fields north of Dago could not be carried out. 
Five boats had simultaneously reported that the enemy was retiring 
to the north, so it followed that the whole of Moon Sound must be 
clear of hostile craft; the enterprise was therefore abandoned. The 
damage that the large ships would probably have sustained from 


The Capture of Helsingfors 

mines was out of proportion to anything that might have been 
gained by pushing on farther. 

This completed the operations of the Fleet. The conquest of 
the islands attained by this co-operation of the Army and Navy 
represents a military achievement which was as unique as it was 
successful. The Navy is especially proud of it, as it gave them an 
opportunity of lending valuable aid to the Army. 

The departure so far east of such a large portion of the Fleet, 
and its sojourn there for several weeks, was bound to give us a 
definite idea as to whether the English Fleet would feel called upon 
to interfere in this enterprise, or to take advantage of the absence 
of the ships to make a strong advance in the North Sea. In the 
latter case we should have had to take the risk of our remaining war- 
ships in the North Sea being able to ward off an attack that would 
probably aim at destroying the U-boat base at Wilhelmshaven, or 
the airship sheds on the coast. On the other hand, if the English 
Fleet had decided to make a demonstration on a large scale against 
the Baltic, we should have been forced either to abandon the enter- 
prise in the east, or to oppose the English with very small forces 
in the west of the Baltic. But the English Fleet did not deem it 
desirable to pursue either course to divert us from the conquest of 
the Islands. 

The fact that our Main Fleet was thus occupied presented a 
favourable opportunity for us to make an advance with light craft into 
the northern waters of the North Sea, since under the circumstances 
the enemy would least expect it. We, therefore, dispatched the 
light cruisers Brummer and Bremse to harry the merchant ships 
plying between Norway and England, or, should none be met with 
there, to extend the expedition to the west coast of the British Isles. 
This enterprise will be described later. 


Once again our Fleet had occasion to support our Army in the 
east, when, after the Peace of Brest-Litovsk, urgent cries for help 
against the Russian Red Guards were raised by the Finnish Govern- 
ment. A special division was formed under the command of Rear- 
Admiral Meurer, which consisted of the battleships Wesifalen 
and Rheinland (to which the Posen was added later), a number of 
light cruisers, mine-sweepers, as well as barrier-breakers, ice- 
breakers, and outpost ships. They were to convoy seventeen 


Germany's High Sea Fleet 

steamers to the Finnish coast, and to establish a base for them on 
the Aaland Islands. The chief difficulty o( the undertaking lay in 
the fact that there was so much ice. 

On February 28 the voyage to the north was begun, and on 
March 5 the ships anchored off Eckero on the Aaland Islands. One 
ice-breaker was lost owing to a mine explosion. 

It turned out that the ice made it impossible for ships to approach 
the Finnish coast from the Aaland Islands at that time of the year, 
and the advance had to be made in a direct line from the south. 

On April 3 our ships appeared before Russaro, the strongly- 
fortified island before the harbour of Hango on the south-west coast 
of Finland. The Russians declined to oppose us, so that it w^as 
unnecessary to fight and demolish the fortifications; the landing of 
the Baltic Division could proceed without difficulty. Prom this 
point they set out on their march to Helsingfors. The warships 
were to penetrate into the harbour of Helsingfors from the sea ; it 
had been a strongly fortified base of the Russian Fleet. 

On April 12 the ships entered Helsingfors, and landed their 
troops under cover of their guns; there was heavy street fighting 
with the Red Guards in the town. At the threat of a bombardment, 
the latter ceased their resistance and capitulated, so that about 2,000 
prisoners fell into the hands of the Navy. The taking of the ciiy 
brought timely relief to an advance guard of troops which had 
penetrated into the town and was very hard pressed. 

When the Baltic Division itself arrived, the Navy had to safe- 
guard the lines of communication between Helsingfors and Reval. 
According to the treaty stipulations, the Russian Fleet retired into 
the inner Gulf of Finland to Kronstadt, and thus there was no longer 
any necessity for the presence of our battleships, as our Baltic light 
craft seemed to suffice for the assistance of the Baltic Division in 
their task of liberating Finland. 

On April 11 the battleship Rheinland, which had remained near 
the Aaland Islands, ran on the rocks in a fog, when she was going 
to Danzig to coal ; her situation at first seemed very grave, but the 
bad leak she had sprung was successfully stopped, and the ship was 
got off and taken into Kiel Harbour. The repairs were so extensive 
that the Rheinland was of no further use for war purposes. 

As help to the Finns in their need could only be taken by sea, 
and as such help must be immediate if it was not to be too late to 
be of any avail, the liberation of Finland was only possible if we 
could succeed in overcoming the difficulties presented by the ice, 


The Capture of Helsingfors 

which made operations by sea impossible. A further hindrance was 
that the battleships had to make a way for themselves, and that no 
previous sweeping of mines could take place. Admiral Meurer's 
energy succeeded in overcoming all the hindrances which were due 
in part to the ice conditions and in part to the difficulties of naviga- 
tion in these rock-infested waters. The Navy regarded it as a par- 
ticularly beautiful and elevating ta^ to render timely help to the 
seafaring nation of the Finns. 






TO obtain information as to British mines and nets outside the 
belt of mines on the line Horns Reef — ^Terschelling, so-called 
test-trips were devised. The object of these test-trips was to ascertain 
the whereabouts of these barriers, and having done so to find means 
of circumventing them. Having, as a result of these test-trips, 
gained a clear idea of the situation of the various barriers (consisting 
of belts of mines), the next thing was to determine which of them 
should be cleared away. Every test-trip group comprised mine- 
seekers and sweepers with their tackle for finding mines, behind 
them went torpedo-boats with U-boat "kites," with which to locate 
nets; these were followed by barrier-breakers, and light cruisers 
with seaplanes for scouting. Heavy warships protected the test-trip 
groups on routes that were known to be free of mines. 

Such a test-trip had been decided upon for November 17, 191 7. 
Led by Rear-Admiral von Reuter,the 6th Mine-Sweeper Half-Flotilla, 
2nd and 6th Auxiliary Mine-Sweeper Half-Flotillas, the 12th and 
14th Torpedo-boat Half-Flotillas, Barrier-Breaking Division IV 
and the cruisers of Scouting Division II were to search from 
about the centre of the line Horns Reef — ^Terschelling in the direction 
north by west. Ships of Squadron IV, which was on outpost duty, 
were to be sent to cover the group. Squadron Commander Vice- 
Admiral Souchon chose for this task the Kaiserin and Kaiser, with 
the commander of the Kaiserin, Captain GrasshoflF, in charge. 

Rear-Admiral von Renter ordered his group to assemble at 7 a.m. 
at a pre-arranged meeting point. The commander of the Kaiserin 
reported that at 7 a.m. he would lie west of Heligoland. Airship 
scouting was impossible, and the cruisers had been unable to takf 
the seaplanes on board in good time because of the thick weather. 
Of the seaplane stations on land only Borkum was at first able to 
send out scouts. Towards 8 a.m. the test-trip was assembled at the 
point of departure, excepting the 2nd and 6th Auxiliary Mine-Sweep- 
ing Half-Flotillas. 


Our Light Craft in Action 

As the latter could only be a few thousand metres behind, 
the leader of Scouting Division II determined to fetch them up 
with his flagship Konigsherg. He had just left his division when 
it was attacked from the N.W. by guns of large and medium calibre. 
The western horizon was very misty; the type of attacking ship 
was very hard to make out at first. In the east it was clearer; 
probably therefore our own ships showed up distinctly. The wind 
blew with a force 2 — ^3 from the W.N.W.; the sea was slightly 
rough. The leader of Scouting Division II on board the Konigs- 
berg arrived. Scouting Division II, under the command of the 
senior officer, Captain Hildebrand in the Nurnberg, advanced 
against the enemy on a N.W. course, so as to protect the mine- 
sweepers. The torpedo-boats struck out N. and N.W. and put 
a smoke screen between the enemy and the mine-sweepers. "V45," 
Lieutenant-Commander Lossman, making use of her favourable 
position, attacked the enemy at a distance of 40—60 hm. The mine- 
sweepers let go their .tackle and steamed away to the east developing 

With this the most urgent part of their work achieved, the 
cruisers and torpedo-boats under heavy enemy fire — range about 
130 hm. — started on a south-easterly course, developing smoke and 
steam-clouds which made the screen between the enemy and the 
mine-sweepers denser. The enemy, with the exception of a few 
torpedo-boats, turned aside from the mine-sweepers in their way east- 
ward and followed the more valuable cruisers. Owing to the smoke- 
and steam-clouds developed by the latter, he was obliged to steer 
towards the southern wing, that is to the windward, of our cruisers, 
so as to get a better chance of observation for his guns. These 
movements which, according to irreproachable observations and 
bearings, were carried out by hostile cruisers of the "Concord" 
class with a speed of 33 knots, increased the distance between them 
and the mine-sweepers. Visibility astern was, of course, very much 
reduced for our cruisers. The large enemy ships did not go beyond 
he windward edge of the smoke screen, as owing to the danger from 
nines they tried to keep within the limits of the waters through 
vhich we had passed. They were, therefore, only visible for a few 
seconds at a time; it was impossible to get absolutely reliable ob- 
;ervations of their composition and strength. No doubt light craft 
vere in advance on the windward side of the large enemy ships, 
tpparently also on the lee side. 

All took part in the firing. Our cruisers lay in the midst of 

^ 30s 

Germany's High Sea Fleet 

well-aimed salvos, of medium and heavy calibre. With great skill 
they avoided being hit by steering a zigzag course without damaging 
me effect of their own gun-fire. Our batteries replied energetically 
and with good results. 

At 9.24 A.M. explosions resulting from our gun-fire occurred on 
two of the hostile battle-cruisers. One of them thereupon sheered 
off. About the same time our light cruiser Pillau forced an enemy 
destroyer that she had hit to retire from the fight. The leader of 
Scouting Squadron II hoped by going at full speed to separate the 
enemy light craft from the big ships, and so to get a chance to 
attack the former, but this hope was not fulfilled; the large ships 
were able to keep pace. 

The U-boats of the Auxiliary Mine-Sweeping Flotilla had mean- 
while steamed on in the direction E.S.E. At 8.50 a.m. they had 
a fight with the northern group of enemy destroyers at a range of 
90 hm. After three hits had been observed on the destroyers, the 
enemy sheered off* Our U-boats again came under fire from 9.5 a.m. 
to 9.30 a.m., apparently from a leading torpedo-boat; after that they 
were no longer molested and returned to port. Several U-boats 
noticed that an English destroyer came to a standstill and that 
another drew alongside of it. This observation was confirmed later 
on by a seaplane which reported that it had seen one destroyer 
being towed by another. 

The 6th Mine-Sweeping Half-Flotilla had steamed off to the east. 
It also came into conflict with the northern group ' of enemy 
destroyers at a range of 70 to 75 hm.; an advance of 3 destroyers 
brought the latter to within 10 hm. The English destroyers scored 
no hits; ours claimed one for certain. At 9.40 a.m. the enemy 
destroyers retired. Mine-Sweeping Flotilla VI then returned to 
port without any further molestation from the enemy. It is not 
clear why the enemy destroyers did not make better use of their 
superior armament and speed to destroy our weak mine-sweepers 

The fight of the cruisers, in loose echelon formation on a south- 
easterly course, brought them into the neighbourhood of the trawlers 
and the 2nd and 6th Mine-Sweeping Half-Flotilla, which at the 
beginning of the conflict had made off to the south-east at full speed. 

The cruisers nearest to them, the Number g and the Eillau, threw 
smoke bombs to protect them, and the 14th Torpedo-Boat Half- 
Flotilla also helped to envelop the mine-sweepers in smoke. The 
enemy destroyers, which had already come pretty near, sheered off 


Our Light Craft in Action 

from the smoke. The mine-sweepers steamed ofif in an E.S.E. 
direction and were not molested by the enemy. It is possible that 
the latter suspected poison gas in the smoke. 

At 9.50 A.M. destroyers approached Scouting Division II to make 
a torpedo attack. Judging by bearings and distances, the attack 
was doomed to failure from the first. The enemy scored no hits. 
At the same time Admiral von Renter ordered our torpedo-boats 
to attack. The boats advanced to the attack in a running fight, 
scattered as they were. It was not possible to collect for a closed 
attack owing to the speed at which the fight moved on. Altogether 
six torpedoes were fired; no hits were recorded with absolute 
certainty. At any rate the enemy cruisers turned ofif sharply for 
the time being, and in so doing unavoidably afiforded our light 
cruisers a welcome alleviation. The Konigsberg and the Frankfurt 
also fired torpedoes; no result was observed. 

At 10.30 A.M. the battleships Kaiserin and Kaiser hove in sight. 

Admiral von Renter tried by holding an easterly course to draw 

the enemy after him through the belts of English and German mines, 

so as to get him between our battleships and our cruisers. He would 

then only have been able to get away to the north and the north-west 

through the belt of mines. If he chose this route in preference to 

a retreat to the west he was pretty certain to suffer losses by striking 

mines. The battleships, which owing to the smoke and steam could 

not overlook the situation clearly, and did not rightly interpret the 

signals made by the Konigsberg, steered on a N.W. course towards 

the approaching ships in action, unable at first to distinguish friend 

from foe. Scouting Division II then determined to try to join up 

with the battleships. The latter meanwhile had opened fire on the 

light cruisers of the "Concord" class. The Kaiserin quickly got 

the range, and a hit was observed on the leading cruiser. Thereupon 

the hostile ships sheered ofif. When Admiral von Reuter went to 

turn with the Konigsberg and pursue the enemy along a north- 

ivest course, he was still under fire, and a shell hit the Konigsberg, 

causing a serious bunker fire. 

With this shot the firing suddenly ceased. The action was over. 
The enemy ran away at full speed to the N.W. In the meantime 
the Hindenburg and the Moltke, which on receipt of the news that 
an engagement was in progress had followed the other two battle- 
ships, had reached the scene of action; probably their appearance 
induced the enemy to break ofif the engagement. Our boats which 
started in pursuit did not succeed in getting into touch with the 


Germany's High Sea Fleet 

enemy again. An advance with Torpedo-Boat Flotilla VII , under- 
taken the same night, met with no result either. Torpedo-Boat 
Flotilla II, which had advanced to the Hoofden the night before 
and was just returning thence to the Bight, could not be sent in 
chase owing to lack of fuel. 

So far as could be ascertained at such a distance and with the 
smoke that was developed, the following ships were engaged on 
the enemy side : 4 battle-cruisers (2 "Lion" and 2 "Courageous"), 
and 6 to 8 light cruisers of the "Concord," "Caroline" and 
"Arethusa" classes, as well as 16 to 18 destroyers. According to 
seaplane observations, confirmed by other reports, behind these 
cruisers and outside the Horns Reef — ^Terschelling line there were 
other heavy fighting ships — ^at least one batdeship squadron which, 
however, did not dare to enter the belt of mines, while the enemy 
cruisers kept in a straight line where our ships had passed and thus 
obtained some security from that danger. 

The following hits were observed from our ships: five on the 
enemy battle-cruisers, six on the light cruisers, and seven on the 
destroyers. Our cruisers were hit by two heavy shells, one of which 
was a 38 cm., and by three 15 cm. It was remarkable what little 
damage the 38 cm. shell caused in the Konigsberg. It passed 
through all three funnels of the ship, went through the upper deck 
into a coal bunker — the inner wall of which it burst ; there it exploded 
and caused a fire. The fragments of this shell were picked up and 
its calibre determined. This proved to us that the English had 
built a new class of cruiser armed with a 38 cm. gun. The great 
speed of the ships was extraordinary. So far as the somewhat 
doubtful observations of our cruisers went, they had only two 
turrets, one fore and the other aft. The fact that a battle-cruiser 
felt obliged to sheer off on being hit by one of our light cruisers 
seems to indicate that its armour cannot have been very strong; 
probably weakened to allow of the high speed that was aimed at. 

The losses on our side were : 2 1 killed, 10 seriously wounded, 
and 30 slightly wounded. The only ship that fell a victim to the 
enemy was the outpost steamer Kedingen which was stationed as 
a mark-«hip at the point of departure of the test-trip. The English 
directed the fire of their 38 cm. guns on this little boat, so that the 
crew had to go overboard. She was captured undamaged by the 
English and carried off. 

Our light cruisers amply fulfilled their duty of shielding the 
mine-sweeping groups and drawing fire upon themselves. Their 


Holding up Convoys 

relative strength, when compared with the enemy, unfortunately 
made it impossible for them to achieve a greater success, especially 
as the two battleships came to their support so late. This induced 
us in subsequent similar undertakings to make the support groups 
stronger and to send them forward, as far as the mine-fields would 
permit of such a course. The demands thus made upon the battle- 
ships of our outpost section increased considerably. The field of 
operation of the mine-sweepers extended i8o sea miles to the north 
and 140 miles to the west of the Jade. Work at such distant points 
was impossible without strong fighting support . 

As a rule one-half of these support ships were placed immediately 
behind the mine-sweepers, and the remainder about 50 sea miles 
farther back. On days when air-scouting was possible, only half 
of the outpost-ships were required, but when air-scouting was 
limited all the outpost forces took part in the operations. In the 
neighbourhood of the Amrum Bank an anchorage was made secure 
from submarine attack and surrounded by nets. Here the support 
ships for the operations in the north could anchor, and thus avoid 
the long return journey to the Jade or the necessity of cruising about 
at night and burning unnecessary fuel. But this anchorage was 
not ready for use until the summer of 1918. 


While the Fleet was busy with the conquest of the Baltic 

Islands the light cruisers Brummer and Bremse received orders to 

make a raid on the traffic route between Lerwick, in the Shetland 

Islands, and Bergen, the object being to inflict damage on English 

trade by surface craft as well as by U-boats. In the event of 

their encountering nothing there they were to push on at their own 

discretion to the west of the British Isles into the Atlantic, as far 

as their fuel supply would allow. These two cruisers had joined the 

Fleet in 1916 and had originally been constructed in German 

shipyards as mine-layers for the Russian Government; they were 

distinguished for high speed. Their engines were adapted for coal 

or oil fuel. They carried a 15-cm. gun. The mine-laying apparatus, 

w^ith the exception of the dropping-gear, had been removed so as 

not to hinder the ships on their cruises. While our other light 

cruisers could acconmiodate but 120 mines on deck, when they 

carried them for a special expedition, the Brummer and the Bremse 

were capable of taking thrice that number. The addition of these 


Germany's High Sea Fleet 

two cruisers was a very welcome reinforcement, and made it possible 
to form two scouting groups of light cruisers (II and IV) with 
modern ships of approximately the same speed, after the alterations 
of the other light cruisers had been completed and they had received 
a 15-cm. gun instead of their 10.5-cm. guns, which were too weak. 

It was known that neutral merchant vessels assembled in convoys 
to travel under the protection of English warships, and therefore 
they might be regarded as enemy vessels, since they openly claimed 
English protection so as to benefit the enemy and consequently to 
injure us. Interruption of this traffic was intended to heighten the 
effect of the U-boat campaign • Apart from depriving the enemy 
of the supplies he awaited, it would place him under the necessity 
of affording better protection to the neutral shipping placed at his 
service, for which more warships would be required; these, again, 
would have to be taken from among those occupied in the war on 
U-boats. iWe might also anticipate that the success of such attacks 
would have a terrorising influence. 

On putting out to sea the cruisers were delayed for a day, because 
the mine-sweepers who accompanied them found mines in their path, 
but at dawn on October 17, 191 7, they lay in the middle of the 
fairway Lerwick — Bergen, and before day broke they enoHintered a 
convoy of ten steamers under the protection of two or three warships. 
At the head of the formation, which was in a double row, was the 
destroyer Strongbow, and when she recognised our cruisers as enemy 
ships she advanced smartly to the attack and was sunk after a few 
shots had been exchanged. 

The steamers had stopped when they realised the position they 
were in, and began to lower boats in which the crews might find 
safety. A second British destroyer, the Mary Rose, had first made 
off to the north when the fight began, but changed her mind and 
returned, after about 20 minutes, to the ships under her protection. 
She also attacked our cruisers and was sunk after a short fight. The 
steamers were then sunk as they passed at a short distance, which 
enabled the shots to be placed on the water line. As two of the 
steamers had been able to get away in time on noticing the attack, 
the care of the crews in the boats could be left to them, for our 
cruisers had to consider their own safety on the long return journey. 
A further extension of the cruise offered no prospect of success after 
this incident. 

It was to be foreseen that this action would occasion a great 
outcr>- among those that had suffered, if only to divert attention 


Holding up Convoys 

from the humiliating fact that German cruisers had appeared in 
the Northern waters supposed to be completely under English 
control* If in this starvation war, introduced by the English, the 
neutrals worked against the German nation and so openly assisted 
the enemy as to place themselves under the protection of his 
warships, they must take the consequences of their action. To what 
an extent they regarded themselves as being on the side of the 
enemy is shown by the fact that some of these neutral steamers 
carried guns on the forecastle which they did not hesitate to ust. 

If England wanted to demand the right to enjoy undisturbed 
supplies, thanks to the complaisance of the neutrals, or to the 
pressure brought to bear on them, no one could expect us to look 
on with folded hands until English sea power had completed its 
work of destroying our nation by starvation. The counter-measures 
which this necessitated must recoil upon England as the originator 
of this form of warfare. 

The effect of such action had to be heightened by a speedy 
repetition of a similar attack. The next time Torpedo-Boat 
Flotilla II was chosen, which comprised our biggest and fastest 
torpedo-boats. A half-fiotilla was to attack the convoy traffic near 
the English coast in the so-called "war channel," while at the same 
time the other half-flotilla was to go to the Bergen — Lerwick route. 
Flotilla II (Commander Heinecke), accompanied by the light cruiser 
Emden (the ship substituted for the one of the same name that 
Captain von Miiller had commanded), left early in the morning 
of December ii, at a speed of 19 knots* The weather was clear, 
sea smooth. At 4 p.m. the half-flotillas parted at the north-east end 
of the Dogger Bank, and the Emden remained behind. 

The 3rd Half-Flotilla went north, the 4th steered for a point on 
the English coast ,25 sea miles north of Newcastle. At 6 p.m. a 
wireless message was received that a convoy with destroyers would 
leave the Firth of Forth for the south between 8 and 11 p.m. On 
account of this message the leader determined to go up the "war 
channel " to the north, about as far as Berwick, so as to meet the 
enemy on this part of the route between 3 a.m. and 6 a.m. According 
to other English wireless messages received, there were in the Firth 
of Forth 8 British cruisers, in the Tyne some destroyers, and in 
the Humber 2 destroyers with various guard-boats. This, however, 
did not hinder the leader of the flotilla from pursuing his purpose. 
Towards 2.30 p.m. on I>ecemBer 12, 1917, before the flotilla had 
turned into the "war channel," a steamer of about 3,000 tons was 


Germany's High Sea Fleet 

sighted coming at a distance of about 25 nauticaT miles from the coast; 

it was sunk by a torpedo. The crew of the steamer took to their 

boats. As the flotilla approached closer to the coast the beacons 

they expected to see were not visible^ so that they could not find 

their way between the Fame Islands and the land. To have gone out 

to sea and so round the islands would have meant missing the convoy, 

so the half-flotilla turned southwards in the direction of the mouth 

of the Tyne. Although the course ran only 3 to 4 nautical miles from 

the coast, nothing was to be seen of the land or any towns. It was 

very misty near 5ie coast. At 4.45 a.m. a steamer with very great 

draught came into sight on the port bow; her size was estimated 

at 5,000 tons. This ship was steering on a southerly course down 

the "war channel/' and was sunk by a torpedo; the crew took to 

the boats. A quarter of an hour later four small steamers came in 

sight; obviously they were the convoy boats which had already 

indicated their presence by wireless messages, and were now on 

the point of entering Tynemouth. Two of them were destroyed 

by gunfire, the other two escaped because our torpedo-boats were 

looking around for larger steamers or destroyers that might be in 

the neighbourhood. As nothing further was found, the boats 

started on their return journey at 6 a.m. At 5.15 p.m. they rejoined 

the Emden, which had waited at sea for the flotilla. 

The half-flotilla under Lieutenant-Commander Hans Holbe had 
continued on a northerly course after separating from the others on 
the previous day. The farther north they went the worse the weather 
became. Towards 10 p.m. there was a heavy swell and a strong 
freshening wind from the south. The next morning, at 4 o'clock, 
speed had to be reduced first to 15 and then to 12 knots, because 
heavy seas came up from the north-west. It was impossible to fire 
a gun or a torpedo. The leader of the half-flotilla had to give up 
his plan and steered towards Udsire on the Norwegian coast, so as 
to be able to fix his position and then to try and catch a convoy 
announced from Drammen. At 7 a.m. he sighted Udsire. As the 
barometer fell no lower and the seas seemed to be decreasing, he 
once more turned upon a northerly course, which, however, had to 
be abandoned again at 11 A.M., because in the sea then running he 
could only make a speed of 9 knots. The boats, therefore, once 
more turned south, intending to stay out of sight of land by day 
and to approach the coast by night, expecting to meet some merchant- 
men there. In the course of the morning one boat developed a 
leakage in the condenser. But the commander of the half-flotilla 


Holding up Convoys 

decided to keep the boat with him and reduce the speed of all his 
boats to 25 knotSy preferring this to sending the boat back home 
alone from such a great distance. 

While he was steaming along on a southerly course, at 12.30 p.m. 
a convoy of six steamers came into sight which was protected by 
two destroyers and four trawlers. It was going from Lerwick to 
Norway on an easterly course. 

The destroyer Partridge, which was ahead of the formation on 
the port side, steamed towards our half-flotilla and came under fire 
at I o'clock. The destroyer Pellew, which was on the starboard 
side, had steamed ahead full speed, and the Partridge joined her. 

mctridgc..-' \ 

\ V \C#Of 

\ \ \ 

\ \ ^ 

Sf ^ Nl 


Th» AtUok on the Conyoy 

The British destroyers left the convoy and the four trawlers to their 
fate; probably with the idea of drawing our boats away from the 
latter, and of fighting them. The fire of the British destroyers was 
not very effective. The fight was carried cmi at a distance of 50 hm. 
till the Partridge, after a shot in her main steam-pipes, could not 
continue. She tried to carry on the fight with her torpedoes, but 
one torpedo stuck in the tube which had been damaged by gunfire ; 
a second torpedo, fired at short range at our boat "V 100," hit, for 
the shock was distinctly felt in the boat, but it did not explode. 
While three boats of our half-flotilla took up the fight with the two 
destroyers, the fourth boat (which could only travel at 25 knots) 
was sent to destroy the convoy. The destroyer Pellew, pursued by 
the leader of the half-flotilla, succeeded — thanks to her superior 
speed — in getting out of sight in a squall of rain, and escaped to 
the land. Four officers and forty-eight men of the Partridge and 


Germany's High Sea Fleet 

the trawlers, which were all sunk, were taken on board as prisoners 
of war, as well as 23 civilians. Our casualties were three wounded. 
The convoy consisted of one English, two Swedish, two Norw^ian 
and one Danish merchant steamer. The shipwrecked men of the 
latter refused to come on board our boats; of the others some 
consented to come on board, and then the steamers were all sunk. 
The whole aflfair was over in three-quarters of an hour. Owing to 
the high seas, it cost a lot of trouble to get the English on board 
when they were floating about in the water, having taken refuge 
on rafts. The half*flotilla then started on its return journey round 
Skagen, as a weather report announced stormy weather in the North 
Sea, and so reached Kiel Harbour. This repeated interference with 
merchant traffic, which had shown the insufficiency of the protection 
afforded by English convoys, had the desired result, and compelled 
the employment of stronger forces. 

Information obtained by U-boats was to the effect that American 
ships were pressed into service for this purpose; they were 
reo^nisable by their masts. This confirmed statements received 
from other quarters that the English Fleet was receiving support 
from the Americans in the War Zone of the North Sea. Thus there 
was little further prospect of our light craft being able to destroy 
any more convoys. Stronger forces would have to be employed for 
this purpose. This led to an expedition of the Fleet in April, 1918. 


In February, 1918, Flotilla II was confronted with a new problem, 
which it solved brilliantly. The Naval Corps in Flanders had 
sent a request to the commanders of the Fleet begging them to 
destroy the English light-barrier which had just been instituted 
between Dover and Calais. In the last months the enemy had, with 
much expenditure of material, tried to make these Straits impassable 
for our U-boats. According to the reports of the boats, there were 
net barriers between Cape Grisnez and Folkestone, and farther south 
between Boulogne and Dungeness. The nets were guarded by a 
large number of vessels which, by means of searchlights and 
magnesium lights, formed a very effective light-barrier all night 
long. This made it very much more diflRcult for our U-boats to 
get through unmolested, and the Straits were actually almost 
impassable. The forces in Flanders alone were not able to deal a 
sufficiently effective blow to this Anglo-French barrier to the 


The Heinecke Torpedo-boat Flotilla 

Channel. For this undertaking the commanders of the Fleet chose 
ihe strong boats of the Heinecke Flotilla, which was sent direct 
from the German Bight without first touching the coast of Flanders, 
so as to make sure of surprising the enemy. 

On the day of the enterprise Flotilla II was to be off Haaks 
Lightship at 5.30 p.m. and thence proceed in close formation as far 
as the northern end of the Channel by the Sandettie Bank; there 
the two half-flotillas were to separate ; one led by the Flotilla Com- 
mander was to attack the barrier west of Varne Bank, and the other 
was to attack east of that point. When the attack was over they 
were to enter Zeebrugge Harbour, take in a fresh fuel supply, and 
start the return journey to the German Bight^the same night. 

Owing to bad weather the enterprise, originally planned for 
February 7, was postponed to the 13th. In the meanwhile the route 
the boats were to have followed had been made impracticable by 
new English mine-fields, and they had to go close by the Frisian 
Islands, thereby running the risk of being seen early in the evening 
trom Dutch territory and their advance being reported. Con- 
sequently the misty weather on February 13 was not unwelcome. 
Flotilla II managed to pass along the mine-swept route at 
Terschelling with the help of the land, without having been able 
to see any landmarks; but when it arrived off Haaks Lightship it 
had to give up the attempt because of the fog; the boats would 
have had to travel at high speed to reach their goal in time, and 
this was impossible in the foggy weather. The flotilla anchored 
during the night north of Nordemey. The next day, February 14, 
it started again in very clear weather. So as not to betray his real 
goal, the Flotilla Commander set out from Helder on a westerly 
course ; when out of sight of land he steered south, and, after dark- 
ness had fallen, down the Dutch coast as far as the Schouven Bank. 
At the Hook of Holland one of the boats had to be sent back to the 
German Bight owing to defects in the condenser. In the night of 
the 15th at 12.30 A.M. the two half-flotillas separated according to 
plan north-east of the Sandettie Bank. The group led by Captain 
Heinecke was to circumvent the first and more northerly barrier 
near the English coast, and begin by attacking the southern barrier 
presumed to be off Dungeness, and then on his return roll up the 
northern barrier from the Varne Bank to Folkestone. The latter, 
being a light-barrier, could be seen from far off. On approaching it, 
it became clear that it consisted of a large number of craft, anchored 
or moored to buoys, which were placed right across the fairway, 


Germany's High Sea Fleet 

not in one line* but in echelon in a broad band. These boats 
up the fairway all the time with searchlights, and from time 
lime, about every quarter of an hour, they threw magnesium lighl 
overboard which, floating down the tide for minutes at a time, II 
up the vicinity for a distance of two or three miles, so that I 
was almost as light as day. In and out among these a lot of boat^ 
moved without Hghts, armed trawlers, submarine chasers and moM] 
boats, to attack any U4x>at that might come. At the north-wes| 
end of the barrier a searchlight, apparently placed on land betweeri 
Dover and Folkestone, threw a steady beam of light in the crosA 
Channel direction. In these circumstances it was impossible to 
get round the barrier, and the Flotilla Commander determined to 
make a direct attack. He first made fcM* a large boat placed about 
the middle of the barrier with a specially bright revolving search- 
light; this he sank from a distance of 300 m. It was an old cruiser, 
or a special boat of the "Arabis" type. After this the group first 
swept round to the north-west and then went more slowly along 
the barrier in a more or less south-easterly direction. In a short 
time they sank 13 of these guardships, including a U-boat chaser 
with the number " 1113," a small torpedo-boat and two motor-boats, 
one of which had come up in order to fire a torpedo; these were 
all sunk at close range by gunfire. 

The enemy was taken completely by surprise. Several of the 
boats sounded their sirens, clearly under the impres^on that they 
were being attacked in error by their own ships. No warning was 
given, and a considerable time elapsed after we had opened fire 
before all lights were put out. This may have been due to the 
fact that the big ship that was sunk first had been in conmiand of 
the whole, or else the ships on guard may have been used to hearing 
gunfii-e owing to the frequent fights with U-boats. An attempt to 
take prisoners had to be abandoned, because owing to the swift tide 
it proved too dangerous for our ships to go alongside the sinking 
boats that were in part moored to buoys. The whole affair lasted 
from about 1.30 a.m. till about 2.30 a.m. Owing to the lateness of 
the hour it was out of the question to attack the other barrier 
supposed to lie farther south, from which, however, no Hghts or 
searchlights were seen, and so the return journey was begun. 

Meanwhile the other half-flotilla had turned towards the southern 
end of the barrier, and first made for Cape Grisnez. Again one of 
the boats developed a leakage in the condenser, but the commander 
of the half-flotilla^ could not dismiss the boat and had to reduce 


The Heinecke Torpedo-boat Flotilla 

the speed of the other boats to that of the defective one. Off Calais 
the group encountered the first guardship, lying close to the coast, 
a large, armed tmwler, and, taking her by surprise, sank her by 
gunfire. Steering west, they met a number of other boats which 
were using searchlights and magnesium lights. In several cases 
the supply of magnesium lights on the guardships caught fire owing 
to the shots. In this part of the barrier, too, it was some time before 
the boats realised that the enemy was among them, and retired to 
the west. Altogether this torpedo-boat half-flotilla sank twelve 
armed guardships and two motor-boats. 

At 2.40 A.M. the half-flptilla started upon the return journey. At 
3.30 A.M. the stern lights of six English destroyers were sighted 
ahead. Owing to his unfavourable position with regard to the 
enemy and the reduced speed of the one boat, which left him with 
only two boats that were quite intact, the commander of the half- 
flotilla was forced to avoid a fight. He turned off and did not reply 
to the enemy's signal. The latter at first followed in the wake of 
the half-flotilla, but after altering his course a few times was lost 
to view. On making for Zeebrugge the torpedo-boat " G 102 " struck 
a mine about 12 nautical miles from the harbour entrance; two com- 
partments filled with water, but the boat was able to reach the 
harbour without assistance. Three men were killed through this 
mishap. These were the only casualties of the expedition. 

After replenishing their supply of oil fuel in Zeebrugge the 
flotilla began its return journey in the evening of the same day and 
reached home without further incident. The damaged boat was 
temporarily repaired in Flanders, and followed a few days later. The 
flotilla's success was due to the completeness of the surprise. 
Besides the direct damage inflicted on the enemy by the sinking, of 
so many boats that were of value to him, we accomplished our aim 
of breaking the barrier across the Calais — Dover Straits through 
which our U-boats were again able to pass for the time being. A 
scouting trip carried out the following day by the torpedo-boats of 
the Naval Corps showed that the guard had been completely 

The demands made on the skill of the officers commanding these 
boats were very great, as it was difficult to distinguish things clearly 
because of the gunfire, and particularly because of the smoke on 
the water from the magnesium lights. The gun-layers did excellent 
work in shooting down the fast motor-boats which, owing to their 
speed, could only be discerned at the last moment, but were always 


Germany's High Sea Fleet 

knocked out by the first shot. It was a great help to the expeditioi 
to be able to break the return journey by running into Zeebrugge 
because otherwise the voyage would have had to be made by daylight 
and in that case the English would probably have made an attemp 
to cut our boats off. 


When the portion of the Fleet that had been sent east bad 
returned from the conquest of the Baltic Islands, some weeks elapsed 
before the ships and torpedo-boats had had the damage repaired thai 
they had suffered from mines and from running aground. Tht^ 
winter months brought no change in the activities of the Fleet, which 
were directed towards supporting the U-boat campaign. 

In the spring of 1918, when our army was attacking in the west^ 
English interest was bound to centre in the Channel. Through 
agents, through the aeroplane service in Flanders, and through fol^ 
lowing the enemy*s wireless messages, we ascertained that he had 
materially reinforced the warships protecting his transports, and thai 
large ships had been sent to the Channel, and parts of the crews oi 
the Grand Fleet had been sent to reinforce those of the light crafi 
in the Channel. On the other hand, the enemy had carefully im^ 
proved the convoy traffic between England and Norway since the 
successful raids of the Brummer and the Bremse, and of the boats 
of Torpedo-Boat Flotilla II. Our U-boats had learnt that the 
steamers were assembled there in large convoys, strongly protected 
by first-class battleships, cruisers and destroyers. A successful 
attack on such a convoy would not only result in the sinking of mucbj 
tonnage, but would be a great military success, and would bring 
welcome relief to the U-boats operating in the Channel and round 
England, for it would force the English to send more warships to 
the northern waiters. The convoys could not be touched by light 
craft. But the battle-cruisers could probably, according to informa- 
tion received, deal with all exigencies likely to arise if they could 
have the necessary support from the battleship squadrons. 

So far as could be made out convoys mostly travelled at the 
beginning and middle of the week. Consequently Wednesday. 
April 24, was chosen for the attack. A necessary condition for 
success was that our intentions should be kept secret. It was 
enjoined upon the officers in command of the subordinate groups to 
use their wireless as sparingly as possible during the expedition, 

' 318 

_ Jf, 

--T — * Y 




Germany's High Sea Fleet 

which was to extend beyond the Skagerrak up to the Norwegiaj 
coast. On the pretext of manoeuvres in the Heligoland Bight al 
warships at our disposal were assembled on the evening of the 22n< 
in the Schiilig Roads. Here the officers in command of the variou! 
groups were informed of our intentions and received their orders 
The plan was to attack the convoy with the battle-cruisers, the ligh 
cruisers of Scouting Division II, and Torpedo-Boat Flotilla II undei 
the leadership of the officer commanding the Scouting Divisions, 
Admiral von Hipper, while the remainder ol the ships took up a 
position from which, in case of need, effective support could be given 
to the cruisers. All other flotillas were to remain with the main body 
of the Fleet. Torpedo-Boat Flotilla V could not be included, as its 
radius of action was too small. The commander of this flotilla, 
Commander von Tyszka, was entrusted with the conduct and pro- 
tection of the convoy service through the mine-fields south-west and 
west of Horns Reef. 

To ensure safety of progress through the mine-fields in prepara- 
tion for this enterprise, protective barriers had been placed about 70 
sea miles west of Horns Reef, running from north to south. The 
area between Horns Reef and this protective barrier was to be the 
starting-point of the expedition. The U-boats that had recently put 
to sea had received orders to seek opportunities for attack off the 
Firth of Forth and to report all warships and convoys that were 

On the 23rd at 6 a.m. the various groups put to sea. Admiral von 
Hipper leading with the Scouting Divisions I and II, with the Second 
Leader of the torpedo-boats and Torpedo-Boat Flotilla II ; following 
him came the main body of the Fleet in the following order : Scout-j 
ing Division IV, Squadron III, the Flagship of the Fleet, the First 
Leader of torpedo-boats. Squadron I, Squadron IV, and with the 
main body Torpedo Flotillas I, VI, VII and IX. Immediately afterj 
they left the Jade a heavy fog descended. As far as List the way was 
clear; from there it led through enemy mine-fields; to get through, 
these it was necessary for the Fleet to be accompanied by mine* 
sweepers, and therefore a certain amount of visibility was needful— 
at least two miles. At first we were able to proceed at 14 knots« 
But when, at 11.30 a.m., we reached the entrance to the mine-field 
and visibility was only 100 metres, we had to anchor. Half an houi 
later it cleared up ; one could see three to four nautical miles, and thd 
expedition could proceed. The journey through the mine-fields 
passed off without a hitch. When darkness fell the boundary haq 


The Advance to the Norwegian Coast 

been reached, and the mine-sweepers could be dismissed. The poor 
visibility had so far favoured the enterprise. The enemy line of 
submarines on guard round the German Bight seems to have been 
broken through, if indeed it was occupied at all. 

During the night it cleared up; daybreak brought fine, clear 
weather. At 8 a.m. the Moltke reported to the High Sea Com- 
mander : " Grave damage, speed four knots, position about 40 sea 
miles W.S.W. of Stavanger." All haste was made to reach the 
scene of the accident ; the Strassburg, the foremost ship in the line 
of advance, was detached to the Moltke, and the battleship Olden^ 
burg made ready to tow. At 10.40 a.m. the Moltke was sighted; 
soon after von Hipper appeared from the N.W. with his two 
Scouting Divisions. He had detached the Moltke at 6 a.m. to the 
main body of the Fleet. At that time she could still do 13 knots. 
He had not received the message that she was reduced to four knots. 
When towards 9 a.m. he received the news that the Moltke could not 
move and that the Flagship had not made out the signal — which, 
however, was a mistake — he decided to go to her assistance himself. 
He sent no report to the main body of the Fleet owing to the orders 
that the use of wireless messages should be reduced as much as pos- 
sible. He had the more reason for this course because when he 
turned he was already in the northern part of the convoy route, and 
thanks to the clear weather he could see that for the time being 
nothing was in sight, and that any approaching convoys would not 
escape him if he made a fresh advance later. As the Moltke had now 
been taken charge of by the main body the Admiral received orders 
to advance again to the north. On this second occasion he searched 
the convoy track as far as the 60th degree of latitude but sighted 

At about 11.45 A.M. the Moltke was taken in tow by the Olden-- 
burg. The manoeuvre was carried out without a hitch in the shortest 
possible time. The main body of the Fleet with these two ships then 
set out on the return journey; their speed was 10 knots. There were 
two routes open to us; the one led through the Kattegat, the other 
straight into the German Bight. By choosing the former the Fleet 
would presumably have avoided a meeting with the English Fleet 
which had time to come up and oppose us, as we could only go at a 
slow speed in order not to leave the Moltke in the lurch. But the 
road through the Kattegat was very roundabout, and in addition 
the passage through the Belt would have been very difficult for the 
damaged ship, and in order to protect the tow all our ships would 
V 321 

Germany's Hi^h Sea Fleet 

have had to return through the Little Belt. This was undesirable 
for two reasons, firstly, on account of the Danes, and secondly 
because it might provoke the English to lay mines in the Kattegat. 
This latter proceeding might be very unpleasant for our U-boats, 
and I decided, therefore, to return through the North Sea into the 
Bight in spite of the possibility of being attacked by superior forces. 

Meanwhile the following condition of affairs had been discovered 
on board the Moltke. The inner propeller on the starboard side had 
been flung off (the ship had four propeller shafts) ; the turbine had 
raced, and before the machinery for stopping it could act the training 
wheel had flown to pieces. Fragments of the wheel had penetrated 
the discharge pipe ot the auxiliary condenser, several steam exhaust 
pipes, and the deck leading to the main switch-room. The central 
engine-room and the main switch-room were immediately flooded 
owing to the damage to the auxiliary condenser, while the wing 
engine-room made water rapidly. Salt water penetrated into the 
boilers, and the engines gradually ceased to work. Through a curious 
chain of circumstances an accident to a propeller, slight enough in 
itself, had brought the ship completely to a stand, so that it was 
powerless to move. Two thousand tons of water had flowed into the 
ship before a diver succeeded at length in closing the valves which 
controlled the flow of water in and out of the auxiliary con- 
denser. It was not till then that they got the water under control. 
In the afternoon the port engines were able to run at Half speed ; but 
for the time being there was no guarantee that they would continue 
to run. The ship would have to be towed right into the Bight, and the 
highest speed attainable by the tow was 1 1 knots. At this rate of 
progress we could not reach the belt of mines west of Horns Reef 
before dawn the next day. 

Information received from the Naval Staff at 2 P.M. concern- 
ing the times of arrival and departure of convoys indicated that we 
had not been lucky in our choice of a day to attack them. Apparently 
the convoys from England to Norway had crossed the North Sea on 
the 23rd. 

At 6.30 P.M. we received a wireless message from a U-boat that 
eleven enemy cruisers were about 80 miles behind us. But 
probably the U-boat had mistaken the cruisers that were following 
us under Admiral von Hipper for those of the enemy. 

At 8.50 P.M. the towing cable of the Oldenburg broke, which 
entailed a delay of an hour. For the night the tow was left at the 
end of the line. At 1 1 p.m. Admiral von Hipper had approached tc 


The Advance to the Norwegian Coast 

within 30 nautical miles of the main Fleet. At dawn all the ships were 
together. The enemy was nowhere to be seen. The journey through 
the belt of mines was accomplished according, to plan. Mine- 
sweepers met and convoyed the Fleet back in the same manner as 
on the outward journey. One mine-sweeper, "M 67," struck a 
mine and sank ; most of the crew were saved. 

Off List the Moltke was cast loose, and was able to proceed at a 
speed of 15 knots. About an hour after she had been cast loose^ at 
7.50 P.M., she was attacked by a submarine 40 nautical miles north of 
Heligoland and was hit amidships on the port side. She could not 
avoid the torpedo, but was able to turn towards its course so that it 
struck at a very acute angle. The injury did not prevent the ship 
from entering the Jade under her own steam. 

Unfortunately the expedition did not meet with the success hoped 
for. The opportunity of joining issue with our Fleet was- not made 
use of by the enemy, although by the wireless messages which had 
to be sent owing to the accident to the Moltke he must have known 
of the presence of our ships. The bringing in of the Moltke under 
such unfavourable conditions of sea and weather as arose during the 
night of the return journey was an eminent military achievement, 
especially the part played by the Oldenburg (Commander, Captain 
Lohlen) which towed her, and the work done in stopping the leak 
by the men on board the Moltke deserves great praise. 

This expedition was unfortunately the last which the Fleet was 
able to undertake. 




AT the end of June, 1918, Admiral von Miiller, the Chief of the 
L Emperor's Naval Cabinet, informed me that Admiral von Holt- 
zendorff 's state of health made it improbable that he would be able to 
hold the post of Chief of the Admiralty Sta£F much longer. In this 
event His Majesty had designated me as his probable successor. 

This information released me from the obligatipn that had 
hitherto prevented me from suggesting a change of organisation 
in the department which had directed the conduct of the war at sea. 
The system was a failure, was not very popular in the Navy, and 
our success was less than we had a right to expect. I could not very 
well recommend myself as head of this department, all the more so 
as the command of the Fleet involved personal danger, and I did not 
care to avoid this by getting a position on land. Even the very 
frank discussicMis which had taken place between the Chief ol the 
Naval Staff and myself had not resulted in the full satisfacticm 
of the demands of the Fleet. My personal relations with Admiral 
von Holtzendorff enabled me to speak to him without reserve. We 
had grown pretty intimate by serving together on the same ships at 
different times. We were thrown together at sea for the first time in 
1884 — 86 on board the cruiser Bismarck, the flagship of Rear- Admiral 
von Knorr, when we went to West Africa, East Africa and the South 
Seas to visit our colonies there. After that I was navigating officer 
in 1895—96 in the cruiser Prinz Wilhelm, which Holtzendorff, a 
commander at the time, commanded on a cruise to the Far East. 
Later on he offered me the post of Chief of the Staff of the High Sea 
Fleet, which I held for two years, 1909 — 11, under his command as 
Commander-in-Chief of the Fleet. On all these occasions I had 
learnt to appreciate his personality and his capacity as a leader. 
For this reason I was grieved at the particular cause for the change, 
but as the spell was broken I urged the Chief of the Naval Cabinet 
to accomplish it in any case. 

I had no occasion to complain of undue influence or limitation 
of the Fleet by the Chief of the Naval Staff. But his position 
was not clear ; he seemed to us to yield too much to political pressure. 


The Navy Command 

The conduct of the U-boat campaign was typical of it. Even at 
this moment there were serious differences of opinion as to the 
way it should be carried on. The forces of the Navy were scattered 
over the various theatres of war, and the Commanders of the Fleet 
could not see any necessity for this. The Fleet formed a sort of 
reservoir which was to satisfy all demands for personnel. Naturally 
there was great opposition to any withdrawal of personnel from 
the Navy, unless it was clearly conducive to the main aim of the 
war. But that aim could only be achieved by the Fleet and the 
U-boats, and the Commander-in-Chief of the Fleet felt himself 
responsible for this. 

There was no post of command superior to his, where full 
responsibility could be taken for the success of the conduct of war 
at sea. For the Naval Staff was not a Supreme Command, but 
an organ of the Emperor as the Supreme War Lord, which 
could not be bothered with details of the conduct of the war. The 
relation of the Naval Staff to the Navy was not the same as 
that of the Supreme Army Command to the Army on land. If, for 
instance, a plan of campaign in Roumania is carried out successfully, 
that is essentially to the credit of the Supreme Army Command, 
for it correctly estimated the strength and capability of troops 
and leaders, and set them a task proportionate to their abilities. In 
the war at sea the Naval Staff apportioned the existing ships 
and boats to the different fields of operation — the Baltic, the North 
Sea, or Flanders, the Mediterranean or foreign parts, and had to 
leave the officers in command there to act independently in accord- 
ance with their general instructions. On land the Supreme Com- 
mand permanently controlled the war operations; this was not the 
case at sea. If the Fleet had been defeated in battle, no one would 
have dreamt of making the Naval Staff responsible, but only 
the Commander-in-Chief of the Fleet. But there was need of some 
body which should regulate the distribution of forces with a view 
to some definite end, and not leave the success of naval activities to 
the individual admirals in command in the different theatres of war. 

The U-boat campaign had further complicated matters, because 
all independent officers in command had U-boats assigned to them, 
and the Chief of the Nayal Staff had even placed certain of 
them, e.g. the U-cruisers, under his own immediate command. 
There was need of exchange among the different groups. The 
development ought to be regulated on uniform lines, and the ex- 
periences gained by the individual commanders in their boats, 


Germany's Hi^ Sea Fleet 

including those who specialised on the technical side, ought to be 
made of benefit to all. Finally , the personnel of all the new boats, 
at any rate all the officers and petty ofiicers, had to be drawn from 
the Fleet. 

That meant that the Chief of the Naval Staff must be in- 
cluded in the number of those commanders who were directlv 
responsible for the conduct of the war. We felt the lack of a 
Supreme Command whose orders must be unhesitatingly obeyed. 
Our organisation in peace time had not foreseen this. In the year 
1899 the Supreme Command of the Navy had been done away with, 
because at that time two powerful authorities, generally pulling 
in different directions, were detrimental to the development and 
building up of the Navy. The Secretary of State, von Tirpitz, 
did not feel able successfully to carry through the policy requisite 
Tor the steady development and growth of the Fleet unless it 
corresponded in every particular with his own convictions. The 
result was that the Naval Staff, which was all that was left 
untouched when the Supreme Command of the Navy was abolished, 
had been thrown into the shade, and the men appointed as Chiefs 
of the Staff were not for the most part such as would, in case of 
war, have the authority of chosen leaders, who had proved their 
ability as commanders of the Fleet. 

When the Supreme Command ceased to exist the commanders 
of the Fleet demanded more and more independence. They did 
not pay any attention to strategic questions in peace time; tactics 
and development gave full occupation to their activities. The Fleet 
commanders' chief responsibility in the war lay in the apportion- 
ment of the most important units of the sea forces, for the aim 
of naval warfare is to deal the enemy Fleet a destructive blow. 
Success depends mainly on the skill of the leader. He must be 
thoroughly familiar with the handling and the capabilities of his 
weapon — the Fleet. How to bring about the encounter with the 
enemy must be left to him. Neither the place nor the time can 
be fixed beforehand. For in contradistinction to the war on land, 
the position and strength of the enemy are unknown. 

Consequently it was thought that more or less indefinite general 
directions would suffice, which the Naval Staff had to suggest 
and transmit to the Fleet as orders from the Emperor, based on 
the Staff's strategic considerations. This had been a mistake. The 
organisation which had appeared useful for the building up of the 
Fleet in peace time hampered the ability of the Fleet in war. The 


The Navy Command 

war at sea grew too extensive to be carried on under the personal 
guidance of the Emperor, as it should have been in view of the 
relation of the Supreme Naval authorities to one another. Politics, 
technical matters, and strategy were all closely connected in this. 
The war against commerce also, which we had to adopt, influenced 
our relations with the neutrals. Technical considerations were in- 
volved in the decision as to whether we were to build submarine 
or surface ships, but this again was dependent on the course of our 
Naval strategy. 

When it was realised that England did not intend to put matters 
to the test in a battle, then the time had come to institute a Supreme 
Command; all the more so when, towards the end of 1914, the 
views of the Commanders of the Fleet, the Naval Staff and the 
Secretary of State upon the course we should pursue were all 
divergent. Energetic measures should then have been taken to 
provide the Navy with the leadership it required. Grand-Admiral 
von Tirpitz himself was the most suitable person, for the Fleet 
would have willingly subordinated itself to him, although he lacked 
actual experience in handling it. That, however, was not a point 
of the greatest importance, as the Fleet Commander had that ex* 
perience. The point was to co-ordinate and make use of all the 
forces which could contribute to the achievement of the Navy's aim. 
The fact that the Grand Admiral was not appointed Supreme 
Commander of the Navy was no doubt in part due to the differences 
between him and the Chancellor. These grew more acute owing 
to our vacillating policy in the U-boat campaign. When Tirpitz 
was no longer allowed to exercise his influence in all-important 
questions touching the conduct of the war, and he was not con- 
sulted as to the decision with regard to the U-boat campaign in 
March, 1916, he, who had worked so admirably in organising our 
Fleet, felt compelled to resign. 

As the war was prolonged it became more difficult to provide 
personnel and material for all the new exigencies; our warfare 
extended to far distant parts, and there was a danger of diluting 
the forces collected in the Fleet. The harder our task became, the 
more the difficulties that were put in our way. There was delay 
in the repair of ships and U-b<Mits, in the delivery of new vessels, 
in the fulfilment of urgent demands and improvements. The 
Auxiliary Service Law was not calculated to increase the power of 
iprodluction of the workpeople, and this also suffered from the 
deterioration in food. It cost endless trouble to obtain from the 


Germany's High Sea Fleet 

Anny Command technical woricmen who were badly needed. 
Naturally urgent Anny needs had the preference. But convincing 
representation of the needs of the Navy might have met with 
success in many cases, for goodwill and understanding were 
certainly not lacking in the sister service. 

Between the Admiral in command of the Naval Corps, the 
officer in Supreme Command of the Baltic, and the Fleet, absc^ute 
understanding and the most friendly ^irit prevailed whenever help 
was asked for. But that was a lengthy way of arranging matters, 
and was an insufficient substitute for a Supreme Command that 
could overlook the whole situation and give orders accordingly. 

The gradual decline in the monthly sinkings accomplished by 
the U-boats filled one with anxiety. Many a U-boat with a splendid 
and experienced commander did not return. The new commanders 
had to gain experience under considerably less favourable conditions. 

Day by day the commanders of the Fleet noted down the 
positions of every single U-boat; its departure and return were 
followed with care and suspense. AH our thoughts centred on 
finding ways and means to keep up the standard of their achieve- 
ments and to increase them. There was never a day when we 
were at sea that the commanders of the Fleet did not discuss this 
with the officer in command of the U-boats and his Staff of picked 
professional men. We felt that we were responsible for the attain- 
ment of such an end to the war as had been promised to the 
German people, and that we could achieve it by this means alone. 
The Fleet was animated by one sole idea — ^we must and will succeed. 
Every single vessel, battleship, torpedo-boat, minesweeper, cruiser 
and airship, with their crews— all were permeated with the gravity 
and importance of this task which I impressed on officers and men 
on every occasion. New forces must be found which would under- 
take to complete the work, which threatened to be a failure when 
handled as hitherto by the Naval Staff and the Naval Cabinet. 

A change of Secretary of State (Admiral von Capelle) seemed 
also very desirable. It was not to be expected that a man who was 
convinced that he had done all that was humanly possible would 
pledge himself, without reserve, to carry out new proposals which 
would bring him into opposition with his previous conduct of affairs. 

It had taken six months of urging, from July, 1917, to December 
of the same year, before a central organisation for U-boats — ^the 
U-boat Office, demanded by the Fleet Command — ^had been in- 
stituted. Such was the delay in carrying out demands or suggestions 


The Navy Command 

as the case might be — whether they referred to personnel, armament, 
or technical matters pertaining to ship-building and so on; the 
working of the different departments was inadequate for the needs 
of the times. 

Though I was bound to the Fleet by such close ties, yet I was 
ready to take over the post of Chief of the Naval Staff, provided 
that in that capacity I should have definite powers of command. 
The Chief of the Naval Cabinet objected that the Emperor would 
never consent to give up the Supreme Command — a point on which 
I never insisted — ^but his doubts were not justified. For the Emperor 
consented to the request without hesitation. It was of course under- 
stood that the Supreme War Lord should be informed of the general 
trend of matters and of important projects, and that his consent 
should be obtained thereto. The practice hitherto followed of giving 
orders in the Emperor's name on matters outside His Majesty's 
sphere of interest was rather derogatory to the dignity of the 
Imperial Supreme Command. This incident proves how little 
foundation there was for some reports as to the Emperor's attitude, 
reports which emanated from those in his immediate entourage, and 
easily led to unpleasant decisions being kept from him. 

I had such an experience when commanding the Fleet in 
January, 1917. The matter in question was the design of a new 
first-class battleship. I happened to be in Berlin for a consultation 
at the Admiralty, and the Emperor had commanded my presence 
when the Secretary of State made his report, the Chief of the 
Naval Staff also attending. The Secretary of State brought two 
designs for the projected ship, a so-called battleship-cruiser; that 
is to say, a ship which should combine the qualities of both kinds 
of ship — gun-power, power of resistance and speed. 

Unless such a ship were of gigantic dimensions none of these 
qualities could be fully developed. This was the reason why up 
till then two distinct types had been built; the cruiser, with powerful 
guns, and high speed attained at the expense of its power of resist- 
ance, and the battleship, with the most powerful guns, and great 
powers of resistance at the expense of its speed. 

The Emperor had repeatedly stated that he considered it necessary 
to merge these two types in one ; hence these designs. The principle 
of the ship uniting all these qualities was to be accepted, but a 
choice was to be made between the two designs for carrying this 
into effect. The Chief of the Naval Staff and the Secretary of 
State were of opinion that the Emperor would not budge from what 


Germany's High Sea Fleet 

they supposed to be his attitude towards the matter, and they urged 
me to submit to it. But I had expressed myself to the contrary 
beforehand, and I repeated my arguments. The Emperor was soon 
convinced by our war experiences that we must continue to have 
two types of fighting ships with different speeds, and the Secretary 
of State thereupon received orders to have new designs made on the 
old lines that had proved successful — ^much to the gratification of 
his Chief Constructor. 

Nor was it ever my experience that the Emperor rejected 
unpleasant information. In the two months of September ahd 
October, 1918, the unfavourable reports far outnumbered all others; 
His Majesty always received them with the greatest calm and 
common sense. 

If I had foreseen the rapid development of events I would have 
preferred remaining with the Fleet rather than organising the conduct 
of the war at sea, for my plans never reached fulfilment. Nor do 
I think it impossible that I might have succeeded in making the 
Fleet obey my orders and exert its full powers at the eleventh hour. 
My only excuse for this lack of foresight lies in the fact that my 
observation of the spirit of the crews was based on the undiminished 
readiness to undertake any warlike enterprise which they had always 
shown up to then, and further that no hint of the widespread dis- 
integration in our dcmiestic conditions ever reached the leaders of 
the Fleet from any reliable political source, just as little as it reached 
the Admiralty later on. 

On July 28 I was summoned to General Headquarters at Spa; 
Admiral von Holtzendorff had again, on the advice of his doctor, 
asked His Majesty to relieve him of his post, and his request had 
been granted. At the same time a decision was to be reached as to 
whether the U-boat campaign should be extended to America. The 
Naval Staff had urgently recommended the declaration of a 
blockade of the American coast, as this was a necessary preliminary 
to carrying out a successful U-boat campaign. As the chief ports 
concerned all lay on a strip of 300 nautical miles in length, it was 
thought that it would be easier to get at the traffic there. The tioop- 
ships — the immense supplies that went from America to the Western 
theatre of war, and the large amount of coast traffic from South to 
North America were to be attacked there. 

The Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs made TStrong objection 
to the declaration of this blockade. If Chile and the Argentine were 
thereby also induced to join the Entente, Spain would follow, and 


The Navy Command 

that was the only country that still protected German interests 
abroad. Quite apart from the political reasons urged by the Foreign 
Secretary, I did not think it probable that any good could result 
from extending the war to the American coast; for the declaration 
of a blockade entailed vigorous and decisive warfare. We could not 
count on stationing more than three boats there until the end of the 
year. No great success could be expected from that, especially as 
there was the added risk of the long voyage out. Moreover, to carry 
the war over to America would open prospects of an extension <rf 
the war that were out of proportion to our strength. Ours was a 
war of defence in Europe. America's interference in this quarrel 
was contrary to all her best traditions. No doubt there were a great 
number of intelligent Americans who did not approve of America's 
taking part, when they calmly and impartially considered the circum- 
stances^ that had led to the world-war. Perhaps they remembered 
their own subjection — ^the manner in which England, their Mother 
Country, had deprived them of freedom, and how they had fought 
for their independence and successfully gained it with German 
assistance. If American troops were injured off the French and 
English coasts that was but the inevitable result of American 
interference in European quarrels. 

But the feeling against us in that country would be very different 
if we began an enterprise which we had not the power to carry 
through successfully, and which must have an unnecessarily 
irritating effect. Three U-boats off the American coast could effect 
no essential amelioration in the results of our U-boat campaign. 
The decision in that campaign would be reached simply and solely 
by reduction of tonnage, and it must be sought in the main blockade 
area round England. 

The officer commanding the U-boats was quite of my opinion that 
every possibility of adding to the achievements in this area must 
be made use of. From all the seas ships crowded to the British 
Isles. It was easier to deal an effective blow there than to follow 
the far-reaching trade routeSi and try to attack them at their points 
of departure. And if an American transport now and then fell a 
victim to a U-boat on setting out from the American coast, that would 
not ward oS the danger which threatened us from that source. It 
would be very easy for the transports to get through the dangerous 
strip near the coast by night, or to gain the open sea at any time 
under protection. We had learnt in the Franco-British blockaded 
area, where all the trade routes of the oceans meet, how difficult it 


Germany's Hi^ Sea Fleet 

was to pick out the transports frcnn among all the other shipping for 
attack. If, for that purpose, we directed our main attention to the 
southern ports of France, as had been tried several times, the traffic 
was simply diverted as soon as the U-boat danger became manifest, 
and our U-boats were stationed there in vain, and achieved no 
results in the war against commerce. It was only by concentrating 
our activities on the main area round England that we could ensure 
success by sufficiendy intensifying the ever-growing lack of means of 
transport, the effects of which were evident in so many directions. 
The French ports were not, however, left unmolested, and the mine- 
layers in particular were busy there. The increase in the number 
of seaworthy and efficient U-cruisers that could stay at sea formonths 
ought to bring more success in our activities against English convoy 
traffic. They were able to seek the convoys far out at sea, to keep 
in touch with them, and call up a considerable number of U-boatSi 
as soon as their sphere of activity was reached. Hitherto the attempts 
at cooperation between the ^nailer U-boats without U-cruisers had 
been a failure because of the lack of suitable boats to lead them. 

,We had long desired to apply to the U-boat war the principles 
of scouting and keeping in touch, which were applied by the surface 
warships. Now we had the opportunity to do so, and we must not 
let it slip by diverting the boats suitable for this purpose to a far 
distant field of operations. That was the decisive factor which 
induced me to oppose the declaration of a blockade of the American 
coast, and the scheme was accordingly abandoned. The Supreme 
Army Command did not care what means the Navy used, so long 
as it achieved success. Their desire to have more transports sunk 
could only be realised by raising the total number of sinkings. The 
U-boat must attack whatever happened to onne within range of her 
tubes. Naturally the enemy protected the transports e^)ecially well, 
and took them through the danger zone at times which were most 
awkward for the U-boats. 

The greater the number of steamers sunk the more likelihood 
there was that a transport would be sunk. We should more quickly 
attain our end with the U-boat campaign by keeping the blockaded 
area round England and the coast of France under the greatest 
possible pressure than by extending the blockaded area to include 
the American coast. 

August 1 1 was the date fixed for me to take over the affairs of 
the Naval Staff. Before that I had to take leave of the Fleet. 
I had to hand over the command to my successor and make all 


The Navy Command 

preparations for the organisation of the conduct of the war at sea. 
Admiral von Hipper had been chosen as commander of the Fleet. 
His great experience in matters appertaining to the Fleet, his 
efficiency in all the tactical situations in which he had found himself 
with his cruisers, seemed to point to him as the most suitable person 
to whom I could confidently hand over the weapon from which I 
never thought to be separated in this life. The signs of faithful 
affection shown to me by the Fleet made my parting no easier, but 
I hoped to be able to continue to serve it in my new position. I felt 
the parting from my Staff especially keenly. The Chief of the Staff, 
Rear-Admiral von Trotha, on this occasion again showed his un- 
selfishness by giving up some very important colleagues to assist 
me in the Navy command. The former Chief of the Department of 
Operations in the Fleet, Commodore von Levetzow, who had mean- 
while been promoted to the command of Scouting Division II, had 
placed himself at my disposal as Chief of my Staff, 

I took from the Naval Staff the necessary personnel for my 
command under the supervision of a Special Chid of Staff, and 
transferred them to General Headquarters where it was possible to 
keep in constant touch with the Emperor and the Supreme Army 
Command, as this seemed most desirable to me in view of situations 
which demanded prompt decisions. As a substitute for the Chief 
of the Naval Staff, Rear-Admiral Friedrich von Biilow was 
appointed to supervise matters in Berlin, which dealt mostly with 
reports, the supply of personnel and material, and political affairs. 
That did not entail any real change in the organisation, but only 
a regrouping of the Naval Staff for the purpose of the war* The 
fundamental improvement lay in the powers of command that the 
Chief of the Naval Staff was allowed to exercise in the "conduct 
of the war." 

On August 12 I went to the General Headquarters of the General- 
Field-Marshal to introduce myself to him in my new capacity and 
to consult with him and General Ludendorff upon the situation and 
further plans for the conduct of the war. Both officers were much 
impressed with the gravity of the events which had occurred on 
August 8, and had placed our war on land definitely on the defensive. 
They both admitted that the main hope of a favourable end to the 
war lay in a successful offensive of the U-boats, and General 
Ludendorff promised, in spite of the great lack of personnel in the 
Army, to do his utmost to help to develop it further. 

Until the necessary accommodation for my Staff had been found 


Germany's High Sea Fleet 

at Spa, and they could move there, the business of the Naval 
Staff was concerned with the new r^rouping, and initial preparations 
were made for the extension of the U-boat campaign that had been 
planned. The results of the last months had shown that the 
successes of individual U-boats had steadily decreased. This 
reduction in successes was due mainly to the stronger and more 
perfect measures of defence taken by the enemy, and also to the loss 
of some of the older and more experienced coomianders. Taking 
into consideration the then rate of U-boat construction, we had to 
expect, in spite of the steady increase in the number of U4x>ats, that 
the figures of the monthly sinkings, which had already diminished 
to 50O1OOO tons, would be still further reduced. Judging by the 
reports as to building, it was to be feared that within a short time 
the newly-constructed tonnage would be greater than the amount 
sunk. The success of the U4>oat campaign might thereby be greatly 
diminished. A mere defensive could not help us to toleraUe peace. 
It was, therefore, absolutely necessary for us to develop our only 
means of an offensive with all the strength at Germany's disposal, 
so as to attain our goal — a tolerable peace. In view of the Peace 
Conference, it seemed also advisable for us to have a strong weapon 
in the shape of U-boats with which we could bring pressure to 
bear on our enemies. 

But if we wanted to achieve great things with the U-boat cam- 
paign then the whole industrial power of Germany must be at our 
disposal for the accomplishment of our task. I had got into 
communication with the principal controllers of industry, and at a 
conference with them and the Imperial Ministry of Marine had 
drawn up the following figures as the indtepensable minimum for 
the increase in U-boats': 

In the last quarter of 19 18 per month 16 

,, „ first „ „ 1919 „ „ 20 

,, „ second,, „ 1919 „ ,j 25 

,, „ third „ ,, 1919 „ „ 30 

When I asked the U-boat Office why in January, 1917, when the 
unlimited U-boat campaign was decided on, more boats were not 
ordered to be built than was actually the case I received the 
following answer : 

"As a result of the decision in favour of an intensified U-boat 
campaign no orders for boats on a large scale were placed. In 


The Navy Command 

February, 191 7, only the following were ordered: 6 U-boats of the 
normal type, 45 U-B-boats, and 3 commercial boats. The large 
order for 95 U-boats was not giyen till June, I9i7-** 

No definite information as to the reason for this building policy 
was forthcoming, but it was certainly strongly influenced by the 
opinion of the Chief of the Naval Staff that the boats would 
achieve their effect within a definite period of time, and that 4he 
existing U-boats would suffice. Moreover, in the Imperial Ministry 
of Marine the opinion prevailed that the capacity of the workmen 
for production was no longer to be depended upon. 

After the U-boat Office had been instituted on December 5, 1917, 
120 boats were placed on order the same month, and in January, 
1 91 8, a further 220 boats. During 1918 the monthly return of the 
boats supplied was still influenced by the earlier building policy : 









September ... 

With these numbers the losses were covered, but no noticeable 
increase in the actual total of boats was achieved. We needed a 
g-reater number of new boats than an average of eight a month in 
order to raise the monthly amount of tonnage sunk to more than 
5C»,ooo tons. To a further question as to whether it would have 
been possible for the U-boat Office to get a larger number of boats, 
and if so from what quarter, I received the following reply : 

"The U-boat Office exerted itself unceasingly to obtain a larger 
number of boats and had only been able, with the number of work^ 
men assigned to it, to provide for a monthly supply of 23 boats up 
to the end of 1919. The hindrance lay in the supply of workmen 
Although the War Office did everything possible, and the U-boat 
Office never ceased to urge its needs, it was not possible to obtain a 
sufficient supply of workmen from the Supreme Army Command, 
either in regard to numbers or quality." 


... 3 


... 6 

... 8 

... 8 

... 10 

... 12 

... 9 

... 8 

... 10 

Germany's High Sea Fleet 

A tel^^ram from the Supreme Anny Command in June, 1918, 
gave the foUowing reason for refusal : 

'*I learn from the War Office that the Imperial Ministry of 
Marine has demanded the immediate supply of 2,200 slEilled work- 
men for the Imperial shipyards at Danzig, Wilhelmshaven, and 
their Reiherstieg shipyard in Hamburg, and a further supply of 
nearly 900 skilled workmen for October i . The Army cannot afford 
to be deprived oi any more workmen; the people at home must 
supply the Army with more and more men, but cannot by a long 
way cover the demand caused by losses. The most urgent need of 
the hour is the supply of more men for the Army. Consequently it 
is improbable that the country will be able to spare skilled workmen 
from among those employed at home. Therefore I earnestly beg 
that you will carefully examine the supply of workmen now at your 
disposal, and that you endeavour to manage as far as possible with 
them. I also b^ you to consider the possibility of employing skilled 
labour from neutral countries and the occupied territories (Reval, 
Libau, etc.).** 

As Fleet Commander, when on several occasicxis I tried to effect 
improvements in the position ot the Imperial shipyards by a better 
supply of workmen, I met with a refusal on the ground that the 
necessary workmen could not be produced ; and I had the impression 
that there was not a sufficiently close understanding between the 
higher Navy Commands in Berlin and the Supreme Army Com- 
mand, and that in consequence the needs of both could not be so 
adjusted as to assure the attainment of the great end for which 
both were working. That was the decisive reason why I established 
myself at General Headquarters, so that by my constandy keeping 
in touch with the Supreme Army Command all the resources of 
the country, both in men and material, might be applied to such 
work as would be of the greatest possible benefit. 

When the centre of gravity of the war moved to the west as a 
result of the events of 1918, there was no reason why those in charge 
of the conduct of the war at sea should remain in Berlin, and thereby 
give up all possibility of close co-operation. The plans of the 
Supreme Army Command must be made to include all possible 
advantages to be derived from the war at sea, and full use must 
be made of them. If they admitted that the U-Boat offensive could 
gain a decisive success, then the Army could very well spare some 


The Navy Command 

workmen for the needs of the Navy. This was the stage we had 
reached owing to the force of circumstances. Of course, the Navy 
must first of all give up every man that could be spared for the 
construction and commissioning of U-boats. That could only be 
done if the Navy Command took ruthless action. 

Despite the menacing situation on our Western Front, the First 
Quartermaster-General drew the necessary conclusions, as soon as 
it had been proved to him that it was within the range of possibility 
to carry out the new U-boat programme if we could depend on 
obtaining 40,000 to 60,000 workmen. For the next few months a 
considerably smaller number would suffice to ensure the more rapid 
delivery of the boats now under construction. 

To supply the men for the new U-boats we had to draw to an 
even greater degree than before upon the existing personnel of 
the Fleet, and had to take the necessary steps at once for training 
the commanders and officers of the watch for U-boat service, for 
it took several months for them to become familiar with the 
technical apparatus of the boats and acquire the necessary skill in 

All U-boats at the time in home waters, as well as the U-cruisers, 
were placed under the control of the Fleet. In this way the officer 
commanding the U-boats gained the necessary influence over the 
training of the whole U-boat personnel, and he had the support 
of the Fleet in picking out suitable men. For the Fleet now bore 
the chief responsibility for the carrying out, and consequently for 
the success of, the U-boat campaign. 

In place of the Secretary of State Admiral von Capelle, who 
had retired, Vice-Admiral Ritter von Mann-Tiechler, hitherto head 
of the U-boat Office, was appointed Secretary of State of the Imperial 
Ministry of Marine, in view of the fact that the chief task of this 
office now lay in furthering the construction of U-boats; and the 
building of reinforcements for the surface warships, which could 
no longer exercise any influence on the success of the war, was 
either given up or postponed, so that our entire capacity in ship- 
building was devoted to this one task. 

Immediately after September 10, when I and my Staff had moved 
General Headquarters, an opportunity occurred of proving, the 
idvantages of the close personal exchange of ideas, when a decision 
lad to be made as to the handling of the Spanish question, 
nfluenced by the Entente, the Spanish Ministry seemed inclined 
o abandon the correct attitude of strict neutrality which the Spanish 

^ 337 

Germany's High Sea Fleet 

Government had hitherto maintained; for they made demands 
arising from the U-boat campaign which were plainly in the interests 
of the Entente. The Spanish Government made a claim to seize 
an equivalent amount of tonnage from among the German merchant 
vessels in their harbours for every Spani^ ship sunk in the , 
blockaded area. We were ready to give compensation in kind for 
ships sunk outside the blockaded area, and so as not to distress 
Spain by a lack of supplies, we were willing to compensate at 
once and not make the payment dependent on the inquiry as to 
whether the ships had been justly or unjustly sunk, leaving that to 
the Arbitration Court. But we had to repudiate most energetically 
the demand for compensation for ships sunk in the blockaded area, 
because otherwise the other neutrals would quite justifiably have 
made the same claim, and the successes of the U-boats would have 
been illusory. It would have been nonsensical for us to have given 
up our own ships in compensation for those which we had justifiably 
sunk. It was a question altogether of 875,000 tons of German 
shipping which in this way would have passed automatically into 
neutral trade that went to England, and we should have derived 
not the slightest advantage from it. On the contrary, there was 
the danger that these ships would also be victims of our U-boats. 

Another proposal of the Foreign 0£Eice was equally impracticable ; 
this was to the effect that Spain should send her ships under convoy 
through the blockaded area, and that these convoys should be free 
from attack of our U-boats. Verbal discussions between the 
Supreme Army Command, the Foreign Office, and the Navy 
Command soon produced unanimity as to the attitude to be adopted 
towards Spain, by which, without departing from our fundamental 
principle that the blockaded area must be maintained, we should 
not incur the risk of making Spain side with our enemies. The 
discussions carried on for weeks among the authorities in Berlin 
had led to no result. But the claims that were then raised were 
but the regrettable consequence of the conciliatory attitude formerly 
adopted in this direction, an attitude which could only lend such 
encouragement to just claims that it was difficult to refuse them 
without a danger of serious conflicts. 

. On September 16 and 17 I visited the sea-front in Flanders and I 
was much impressed with the excellence of the measures taken by 
the commander. Admiral von Schroder, for defence against a land- 
ing of the enemy. I also became acquainted with the arrangements 
for the U-boat base at Bruges. The value of this position consisted 


The Navy Command 

in the flank protection it afforded, which had become necessary since 
the fighting front extended to ithe coast. So that this position could 
not be taken in the rear by the landing of troops, the whole stretch of 
coast from Nieuport, at the mouth of the Yser, up to the Dutch 
frontier had been strongly fortified. Zeebrugge, which was con- 
nected with Bruges by a deep sea canal, was a U-boat base. As 
any attack on this strong position would in all probability be made 
mainly from the sea the occupation of these coastal fortifications had 
been assigned to the Navy. The land defence on the extreme right 
wing of the front, closely connected as it was with the coastal 
defences, had also been undertaken by the Navy, which had formed 
regiments of able seamen • The English recognised the great strength 
of the position,, and had not dared hitherto to risk battleships 
in the bombardment of the harbour and locks. They had built 
special craft for this purpose, monitors with shallow draught, and 
armed with a gun of heavy calibre, but these had not once succeeded 
in inflicting serious damage, though they had made many attempts. 
The naval base which had in time developed at Bruges became such 
a thorn in .the side of the English that they did not grudge the 
enormous sacrifices they made in the various attempts in Flanders 
to break through our front in this sector. 

They only attempted once, on April 22 and 23, 1918, to block 
the sea canal at Zeebrugge and the harbour of Ostend, and so make it 
impossible for our U-boats to get out. But this attempt was a failure. 
The attack, which was made with great pluck under the protection of 
artificial fog, found our guards at their posts. Two old light 
cruisers, that had penetrated as far as the mouth of the canal, were 
sunk before they reached their actual goal — ^the lock gates, which 
were uninjured. It was found possible for the U-boats to get 
round the obstruction, so that connection between the harbour at 
Zeebrugge and the shipyard at Bruges was never interrupted eyen 
for a day. 

Another cruiser, the Vindictive, whose commander had succeeded 
with great smartness and seamanlike skill in laying alongside the 
Mole, landed a detachment of 400 marines, who were ready on 
the deck with scaling ladders ; but this enterprise also met with no 
success. After suffering heavy loss, he was obliged to withdraw; 
only 40 men had been able to get on the Mole, where all, with the 
exception of one captain and 12 men, were killed in a fierce fight. 

The Brilliant and the Sirius, which were dispatched against 
Ostend at the same time, did not attain their object, but stranded 


Germany's High Sea Fleet 

in flames east of the Mole. An English submarine succeeded in 
reaching the bridge of the Mole at Zeebrugge, and in blowing up the 
framework, so that for a time the outer end of the Mole was dis- 
connected from the land. The objea was to cut off the garrison 
on the Mole from all assistance from land, but this, too, was a 
failure, thanks to the courage of those in command of the guard. 

Complete safety from such surprises is impossible of attainment, 
for it is difficult for those in the coastal fortifications lying farther 
back to be in time to overcome ships which come at night through 
the mist. But we had to count on a repetition of such attempts. 
The defences of the Mole therefore were strengthened so that a fresh 
attempt would probably have met with as little success. We did 
not lay mines farther out to sea to stop vessels from approaching, 
for this would have endangered our U-boats. 

Although at the time there were no signs that a land attack 
was imminent, in view of the general situation, we had to reckon 
with the possibility that the defences which our land front afforded 
to the U-boat base might be broken through, because we had very 
slight reserves at our disposal. All the more so when the enemy 
realised that for the next period of the war we intended to concen- 
trate mostly on our U-boat offensive. The loss of Bruges would 
have been a very disagreeable blow to the U-boat campaign, especially 
as the assistance we received from the shipyard there, employing 
7,000 workmen, would no longer have been at our disposal. The 
U-boats, however, could have set out from the North Sea, so that 
at a pinch we could have got over the loss. 

Hitherto the U-boats in Flanders had been responsible for 23 
per cent, of the total results. They had sunk 3,342,000 tons in all, 
which does not include sinkings due to mines. 

On my return on September 18 I had a conference with General 
Ludendorff on the subject of the danger with which the position 
in Flanders was threatened. I was informed that the situation at 
the front would probably make an abandonment of the position 
in Flanders necessary. Under the arrangements made by the Naval 
Corps such a withdrawal would take eight to fourteen days if the 
valuable supplies of war material and shipyard fittings were to 
be saved. The Supreme Army Command could not undertake to give 
warning in good time, and as the danger did not appear imminent, 
the Navy Command decided to take the risk of losing this material 
(in case a hurried retreat were necessary) so as to carry on the U-boat 
campaign from Flanders as long as possible. The Supreme Army 


The Navy Command 

Command undertook to inform us in good time of any indications 
which might point to the necessity of abandoning the position. 
We took care not to increase the stocks there, but only to keep 
them up to the level that was absolutely needful. 

In the course of September the discussions with employers of 
industry and the shipyards were continued, to ascertain whether it 
would be possible to carry out the extended programme of U-boat 
construction. On September 24 the Ministry of Marine informed 
the Naval Command that the possibility of carrying it out had, on 
the whole, been established. 

In view of the greater importance that now attached to the 
U-boats, seeing that they were to give a favourable turn to the end 
of the war, I suggested to His Majesty that he should visit the 
U-bobt School at Kiel. His Majesty accordingly left General 
Headquarters on September 23 for Kiel, and on the 24th he inspected 
first the torpedo workshop, and then the establishment of the Im- 
perial shipyards, which had been very considerably enlarged for 
the purposes of the U-boat war. 

At the beginning of the war the torpedo factory at Friedrichsort 
had been the only place where our torpedoes were manufactured; 
but during the war the engineering works (formerly L. Schwartz- 
kopff) in Berlin, which in earlier years had also manufactured 
torpedoes, was converted into a torpedo factory, as were other 
works as well. Under the direction of the Chief of the Torpedo 
Factories, Rear-Admiral Hering, the enormously increased demand 
for the manufacture of torpedoes was fully satisfied, so that the 
supplies of the Fleet and of the torpedo-boats were kept at the re- 
quisite level. Moreover, they succeeded in making considerable 
improvements. The ships of Squadron II (" Deutschland " class) 
and the older torpedo-boats built at the same time, were still armed 
with torpedoes which had a charge of 120 kilos of gun-cotton, a 
range of 2,200 m. and a speed of 24 knots. But most of the ships 
now carried a torpedo of 50 cm. calibre with a range of 10,300 m., 
and a speed of 28 knots. In the newest ships, like the Baden and 
Bay em, the range was still greater, as much as 16,500 m. with a 
speed of 2$}^ knots and the calibre was increased to 60 cm. The 
explosive charge of these newest torpedoes was 250 kilos of a material 
that had three times the explosive power of gun-cotton. 

The U-boat School was established at Eckernforde. Its object 
was to familiarise the new U-boat crews with the handling of their 
boats and their armament, and especially to train them in marksman- 


Germany's High Sea Fleet 

ship. The crews of all newly-commissioned boats were first sent to 
the U-boat School for a time to obtain practice in the military tasks 
with which they would be confronted. The Bay of Eckernforde was 
particularly suitable for diving practice, because of its uniformly great 
depth. Moreover, in consequence of its remote situation, there was 
little traffic there, and it was not, like Kiel Harbour, shut in by 
barriers, the passage of which always entailed a certain loss of time. 
In the large basin of Kiel Bay, which lay before the school, 
practice attacks on a large scale and in war conditions could be 
carried out. Special convoys were formed which were surrounded 
by guardships on the English model ; the ships were painted in the 
manner which in course of time had been adopted by English ships 
to deceive the marksmen at the periscope. The ships were painted 
in all sorts of extraordinary colours, so as to deceive the observer, 
both as to the size and the course of the steamer, and hence to lead 
to bad aim in shooting. 

At the time there were over 200 officers in training there, who 
were to find employment on U-boats as commanders and officers of 
the watch. The school was conducted by Commander Eschenburg, 
who succeeded remarkably well in imparting an excellent training 
to the men of the U-boats which were so precious to us, and ensur- 
ing the greatest possible number of hits with the torpedoes they 
carried. He achieved this in spite of the small number of boats at 
his disposal, because, of course, everyone was eager to make use of 
really well-equipped boats at the front. 

The impression which His Majesty received of his visit of inspec- 
tion was reflected in his address, before he departed, to the assembled 
commanders on board the school ship. He was clearly deeply 
conscious of the gravity of the task he had to impose on this band 
of courageous and self-sacrificing men, when he expressed his con- 
viction that the Fatherland would not be disappointed in the hopes 
that must be put in the U-boat commanders. Involuntarily one 
thought : Morituri te salutant. None of us had the vaguest notion 
that the situation in the war on land was such that the cessation of 
all hostilities would soon be urged, and that in a few weeks the 
U-boat campaign would be abandoned. 

On the return journey to General Headquarters, via Berlin, we 
received news, the day after starting, that the Bulgarian Front had 
broken down. This roused the gravest fears as to the steadfastness 
of our other Allies, and meant that our southern front was en- 
dangered. This news induced His Majesty to proceed to Spa on 


The Navy Command 

the morning of September 29 after staying for a short time in 

On the journey to Spa I met the Secretary of State for Foreign 
Affairs, and he informed me that the situation had become extremely 
serious, and that a decisive conference with His Majesty as to what 
further measures should be taken was to be held that very morn- 
ing. Although I expressed to him my desire to take part in this 
Conference, I was not present, and only learned in the afternoon 
what had taken place. General Ludendorff informed me that the 
Supreme Army Command had announced to His Majesty that the 
situation demanded the immediate initiation of negotiations for an 
armistice and peace. The Chancellor would deal with the 
consequences arising therefrom which would affect home politics. 

We had no detailed conversation on the subject. I knew what 
the feelings of the General must be. After years of glorious battles 
to be confronted with this result as the end of those activities that 
he had pursued with such an iron will I I therefore contented myself 
with such information as immediately concerned the Navy. 

The points to be considered were the withdrawal from Flanders 
and the carrying out of the big U-boat programme. To retain 
Bruges for the U-boat campaign was not to be thought of. On the 
other hand, General Ludendorff was in favour of keeping to the plan 
of strengthening the U-boat weapon. The threat it contained might 
be useful for securing the armistice desired by the Army, as it would 
be useful in case of a refusal, when all our powers would be strained 
to the utmost. 

Thereupon I at once went to His Majesty to secure his consent to 
our withdrawing from the U-boat base in Flanders, and our adher- 
ing to the design of building more boats. His Majesty gave his 

Considering the very grave decisions which the Emperor had had 
to face this day, His Majesty's bearing was admirably calm and 
steady. When the questions relating to the Navy had been disposed 
of, he spoke to me somewhat as follows : 

"We had lost the war. He had hoped that God would ordain 
otherwise, and he hoped that the German nation would stand by 
him loyally. The Army and the people had behaved splendidly, 
but unfortunately the politicians had not. The Imperial Chancellor 
had informed him that he must go. His Majesty, therefore, had 
requested Count Roeden and the Chief of the Cabinet, von Berg, to 
suggest a new Chancellor. It would be difficult to find the right 


Germany's High Sea Fleet 


man. The new Ministry would have to be formed on a broader basis, 
and representatives of the parties of the Left would have to be 
admitted to it/' 

The same evening orders were sent to the Naval Corps to abandon 
Flanders as a U-boat base, and to carry out the evacuation 
according to plan ; the Supreme Army Command v/ould reckon on 
the evacuation of Flanders step by step; for the present there was 
no intention of giving up Antwerp. 

A meeting had been arranged for October i in Cologne, with 
representatives of industry and of the shipyards. The Secretary of 
State of the Imperial Ministry of Marine, Ritter von Mann, and 
Colonel Bauer, representing the Supreme Army Command, also 
attended. Everyone agreed that it would be possible to carry out 
the extended U-boat programme, so long as the requisite number of 
workmen, amounting to 69,000 altogether, was forthcoming; these 
men were chiefly wanted in the shipyards. For the year igiS only 
15 to 20,000 men were asked for. There was no lack of the raw 
materials required, but such materials as had hitherto been used for 
other purposes, e.g. bridge-building in Roumania, would henceforth 
not be available for work of that character. 

The representative of the Supreme Army Command declared that 
the Army was ready to further the undertaking with all the means 
at its disposal. 

I did not feel myself called upon to make any statement on the 
changed situation on the Army front, but I pointed out that all 
those in charge of the conduct of the war were unanimous in their 
desire for us to adhere to this plan, whatever events might occur on 
the Army front, for the collapse in the South-East might well have 
serious consequences for us. 

On October 5 the new Imperial Chancellor, Prince Max of Baden, 
sent a Peace Note to the President of the United States, and a Com- 
mission for Armistice negotiations was set up by the Navy Command, 
which was to deliberate with the Commission appointed by the 
Supreme Army Command under the chairmanship of General von 
Giindell. Rear-Admiral Meurer was appointed chairman of the 
Naval Commission, and Captains Vanselow and Raeder and 
Lieutenant-Commander Kiep were added to it. 

In an interview that I had with General LudendoriF on October 6 
to determine the general lines on which our common deliberations 
should be conducted, I asked him what concessions the Supreme 
Army Command was prepared to make in order to obtain the Arrais- 


The Navy Command 

tice^ saying that I presuiped that these would not go so far as to 
make it impossible for us to resume our arms in case of need. 
General Ludendorff fully confirmed this. The Supreme Army Com- 
mand would consent to an evacuation of the occupied territory in 
the West by stages, and would accept as the first stage the line 
Bruges — Valenciennes, and as the second a line from Antwerp— 
to the Meuse west of Namur. The Supreme Army Command could 
not accede to a demand to give up Metz to the enemy. The Imperial 
Chancellor had wished to make further concessions, but had agreed 
to the Supreme Army Command's proposal in view of the technical 
difficulties involved. 

The important question for the Navy waS whether the U-boat 
campaign was to cease during the Armistice. As the Foreign Office 
declared that without this concession no armistice could possibly be 
concluded, I declared my readiness to stop the U-boat campaign 
during the Armistice, but emphasised the point that in return for 
this we must obtain other concessions in the shape of the return of 
valuable shipping lying in neutral ports and supplies of raw material 
and food. The continuance of the blockade would be unfair if we 
stopped the U-boat campaign. 

As regards the disposal of the Naval Corps, the following plan 
was arranged : those sections which could be employed in the field, 
viz. the regiments of able seamen and marines, as well as the 
transportable batteries of the marine artillery, were to be placed at 
the disposal of the Army ; all the other men were to return to the 

Thus the Naval Corps in Flanders ceased to exist. It had 
been instituted under the leadership of Admiral von Schroder on 
September 3, 1914, and played an honourable part in the taking 
of Antwerp on October 10, 1914. The General Command had its 
headquarters at Bruges. The infantry of the Naval Corps con- 
sisted of three regiments of able seamen and the marines. The latter 
in particular had played a distinguished part in the great battles in 
Flanders in 1916 and 1917. The sea-front was guarded by regiments 
of marine artillery. Thirty guns of the heaviest calibre had been set 
up there, among them five of 38 cm., four of 30.5 cm., and besides 
them a large number of quick-firing guns of from 10.5 to 21 cm. 
calibre. Hitherto they had repelled every attack from the sea. 

The U-boat flotilla in Flanders was first established on March 15, 
1915. As many as 37 U-boats had belonged to it at one and the 
same time. The great results attained by this flotilla were achieved 


Germany's High Sea Fleet 

at the expense of heavy losses ; no other flotilla suffered such losses, 
«nd against it the enemy's most vigorous defence was directed. 

In addition to this, two flotillas of large torpedo4)oats and many 
mine-sweepers had been active off Flanders. They had made their 
mark in numerous night raids on the coast of the English Channel, 
and the bombardment of fortified places like Margate, Dover and 
Dunkirk ; they had also been continually occupied in clearing away 
the barriers laid by the English to prevent our U-boats from coming 
out. Among the torpedo-boats the losses due to mines and bombs 
dropped by flying men were appreciably higher than those in the 
other theatres of war. 

The evacuation of the shipyard at Bruges and the establishments 
at Zeebrugge had been carried out according to plan and without 
interference. The ships had returned through the North Sea to 
Wilhelmshaven ; eleven large and thirteen small torpedo-boats; all 
U-boats excepting four had already been dispatched to the North 
Sea and had arrived there without incident. Four other torpedo- 
boats, which required some repairs before being ready for sea, were 
to follow within the next few days. Four U-boats and two large 
torpedo-boats had to be destroyed as they were not in a condition 
to be transported. In the shipyard at Ghent there were three large 
torpedo-boats whose condition made it impossible to take them into 
the North Sea. These, were to be taken to Antwerp and either blown 
up or interned in Holland. The fast torpedo motor-boats which had 
distinguished themselves as lately as August by a successful raid 
on Dunkirk, had gone to Antwerp and were sent on from there by 
rail to Kiel. The sea-planes of the Naval Corps had made their 
way by air back to the North Sea. The aeroplanes and the rest 
of the Naval material that was capable of employment in the 
field went over to Army Command IV. Of the heavy guns on the 
sea-front only ten 29 cm. guns running on rails could be &ansported; 
all the others had to be blown up when the batteries were evacuated. 

Just as the retirement on our West Front resulted in the aban- 
donment of the base in Flanders, so events in the Balkans led to 
a withdrawal of our forces there as soon as the Turks concluded a 
separate peace, and we could no longer dispose <rf the U-boat bases 
in the Adriatic. 

The battle-cruiser Goeben was the last reserve in the defence of 
the Dardanelles. Turkey had our promise that the ship should be 
handed over to her after the war. Therefore there could be no 
question of withdrawing the ship until there was danger of her falling 


The Navy Command 

into British hands. The Imperial Chancellor had admitted that this 
must be avoided for the sake of our military reputation. Conse- 
quently the officer in command in the Mediterranean, Vice-Admiral 
von Rebeur-Paschwitz, had received orders to send the Goeben to 
Sebastopol if her further stay in Constantinople would be of no use. 

Some of our naval mechanics stationed at Sebastopol had tried 
to make seaworthy the warships which the Russians had handed 
over to us in accordance with the terms of the treaty, but they met 
with great difficulties owing to the neglected condition of the ships. 
Among these were the battleship Volya and several torpedo-boats 
and mine-sweepers which we wanted put in order to assist in the 
transport of large numbers of troops that were to be taken across 
the Black Sea from the Caucasus and Southern Russia to Rou- 
manian ports. But the development of events in Turkey was such 
that the idea of keeping the Goeben was abandoned. In order to 
secure better armistice conditions for the transport of our troops 
fighting in Syria, our Government decided to hand the Goeben over 
to Turkey. The English had made this one of the niain conditions, 
so as to be able to get possession of the ship. 

In the Mediterranean our U-boats were busy until well on into 
October; at the same time all preparations were made to evacuate 
Pola and Cattaro in good time. The officer in command there. 
Captain Piillen, was left to decide as to this oa his own responsibility. 
On October 28 the boats that were ready for sea began their journey 
home to Germany. 

Altogether there were 26 of them there, of which 10 had to be 
blown up because they could not be made ready in time. 

The further continuation of the U-boat campaign, if it should 
appear desirable, was thus dependent on the home bases — in the 
North Sea and the Baltic — and from these points it could have been 
directed against the shipping oflF the French coast and round the 
British Isles. In this case the whole strength of the U-boats could 
have been concentrated on this one main object. 

The new Government formed at the beginning of October, under 
Prince Max of Baden as Imperial Chancellor, had approached 
President Wilson with a request for the conclusion of peace; at the 
same time they had undertaken to secure the cessation of hostilities 
as quickly as possible, and to obtain acceptable conditions of peace. 
But the manner in which they addressed themselves to this task, 
and their attitude during the negotiations, did not lead to the 
desired goal. The ever-increasing desire of our enemies to reduce 


Germany's High Sea Fleet 

our power of resistance till we were helpless was manifest in these 
negotiations. If the Government had determined to put a stop to 
the unduly exorbitant demands in good time, they might have 
secured important turning points in our fate, as the Imperial Chan- 
cellor had promised in his opening speech on October 5. On that 
occasion he concluded as follows: 

*' I know that the result <^ the peace proposals will find Germany 
determined and united, ready to accept not only an honest peace 
which repudiates any violation of the rights of others, but also for 
a struggle to the death which would be forced on our people through 
no fault of their own, if the answer which the Powers at war with 
us make to our offer should be dictated by the desire to annihdlate 


The decisions which the Government reached, and the information 
and advice supplied by the proper military quarters, may be 
summarised as follows: 

To our first request for mediation with a view to peace, sent on 
October 5 ; on October 8 we received the answer : 

"No armistice negotiations so long as the German armies remain 
upon enemy soil." 

On October 12 the reply from our Government : 

"We are prepared to accept the enemy's suggestions for 
evacuation, in order to bring about an armistice." 

Wilson's next Note of October 14 contained the demand: 

"Cessation of U-boat hostilities against passenger ships and 
change of the form of Government in Germany." 

The German Government's reply of October 21 : 

"U-boats have received orders which exclude the torpedoing of 
passenger ships, and with regard to the form of Government : The 
responsibility of the Imperial Chancellor to the representatives of 
the people is being legally developed and made secure." 

Thereupon the answer from Wilson on October 23 : 

"Only such an armistice can justifiably be taken into considera- 
tion as will place the United States and the Powers allied to them 


The Navy Command 

in a position which will make it possible for them to enforce the 
fulfilment of dispositions that shall be made, and make it impossible 
for Germany to renew hostilities. Further, the demand that the 
Monarchy shall be abolished is plainly expressed, otherwise peace 
negotiations cannot be contemplated, but complete surrender will 
be demanded." 

The attitude of the Supreme Army Command was responsible for 
the acceptance of the first demand for the evacuation of occupied 
territory, and it had signified its agreement with the text of our reply 
in our Note of October 12. No decisive influence could be exerted 
by the fears of the Navy regarding the danger which would threaten 
our industrial relations and also our U-boat base in Emden with 
the withdrawal from the .Western F*ront; for the Army was unable 
to give any guarantee that it would be able to hold the Western 
Front in its then advanced position. That was the immediate 
reason why an armistice was needed. In order to satisfy this need, 
the Navy had agreed to stop the U-boat war during the Armistice, 
although the enemy would derive the most advantage from that, 
if ar the same time the English blockade were not raised or con- 
siderably loosened. 

But Wilson's new claim on October 14 went much further, for 
the demand that passenger boats should be spared must result 
in practice in the cessation of the U-boat campaign. Wilson, how- 
ever, did not offer in return to cease hostilities, but had declared 
that he would not enter upon negotiations if this preliminary con- 
dition were not fulfilled by us. In so doing we should lay aside our 
chief weapon, while the enemy could continue hostilities and drag 
out the negotiations as long as he pleased. 

It was to be expected that the Government would agree to spar- 
ing the passenger steamers, for this concession seemed insignificant. 
But its consequences might be very serious, for, according to former 
experience, if the U-boats were again reduced to cruiser warfare, 
their effectiveness was lost, and so far as one could see, it would be 
impossible, if hostilities continued, for us to resume the unrestricted 
U-boat campaign. The following, therefore, was the attitude adopted 
by the Navy to the new Note : " Sacrifice the U-boat campaign if — 
in return — our Army obtains an armistice; otherwise, we strongly 
disadvise compliance." 

On October 16 I had occasion to visit the new Imperial Chan- 
cellor and to communicate my views to him, which he seemed to 


Germany's High Sea Fleet 

understand and share. He invited me to the conference iA the 
Cabinet which was to take place the next morning in tlie Im; 
Chancellor's palace, when General Ludendorff would report oi 
military situation upon which the Government had decfiled to i 
their attitude to Wilson's Note depend. 

The statements made on this occasion as to our powers ol 
sistance were calculated to weaken the unfavourable impressio 
those made on September 29. The answer to be sent was discu 
on broad lines. We were unanimous on the point that the a 
sations of inhumanity, etc., must be repudiated. The devasta 
of districts that were to be evacuated was a consequence of the 1 
so was the killing of non-combatants who went on ships into 
blockaded areas. It should be suggested to the President that 
should put an end to the horrors of war on land and sea by eSect 
an immediate armistice, and that he should clearly state his c 
ditions. Germany was not prepared to accept conditions wh 
would dishonour her. The fact was also emphasised that the tone 
our answer would have a great influence upon the mond of the peoj 
and the Army. 

It would now become manifest whether the President intended 
negotiate honestly on the basis of his Fourteen Points, or whetli 
he wanted to make our military situation worse than was permissit 
by prolonging the negotiations unduly and by constantly increasii 
his demands. In the latter case, the German people must be rea< 
to take up the fight for national defence and continue it to tl 
death. Such was the lofty mood erf the members erf the Govemmei 
and their military advisers at the end of the session. 

The next day I had occasion to report to His Majesty at Potsdam 
he had already been informed by General Ludendorff of the outcom 
of the conference. Confident that the Government would not altt 
the decision arrived at on October 17, General Ludendorff had n 
turned to General Headquarters. I considered it necessary to obtaii 
the Emperor's approval for the further actions of the Fleet in case 
for any reason, we should after all be forced to abandon the U-boa 
campaign, either temporarily or permanently. In these circum 
stances the obligations imposed on the Fleet by the necessity foi 
protecting the U-boats would disappear. If hostilities at the Front 
continued, it would be neither possible nor permissible for the FleeJ 
to look on idly ; it would have to try and relieve the Araiy to the 
best of its abilities* His Majesty agreed that in this case the Fleet 
would have freedom of action. 


The Navy Command 

At the conclusion of my interview, a remark made by the re- 
presentative of the Foreign Office, Counsellor of the Legation von. 
GriinaUy had struck me as odd. He had asked my Chief of Staff, 
Commodore von Levetzow, who accompanied me, whether there could 
not be a statement in the Note to the effect that the U-boat campaign 
would in future be conducted on the lines of cruiser warfare. Ac- 
cording to that, the Foreign Office had not adopted the view that the 
cessation of the U-boat campaign was to be offered in exchange for 
the Armistice. I therefore determined to stay in Berlin so as to 
make sure that the text of the reply Note was in accordance with 
the decisions made on October 17. 

On October 19 the War Cabinet deliberated upon this Note pre* 
I>ared by the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, Dr. Solf. Con- 
trary to what had been agreed upon on October 17 it contained the 
sentence : 

•'The U-boat campaign will now be carried on upon the prin- 
ciples of cruiser warfare, and the safety of the lives of non- 
combatants will be assured." 

The Vice-Chancellor, von Payer, opposed this draft most vigor- 
ously, as it was equivalent to an admission that our actions hitherto 
were contrary to law. "The U-boat campaign," he said, "must not 
be abandoned; the Navy must not stop fighting before the Army. 
Moreover, the whole tone of the Note misrepresented the feeling in 
the country." The Secretaries of State, Groeber and Erzberger, 
spoke to the same effect. 

I made a counter-proposal based on the principle that the U-boat 
campaign must only be sacrificed in return for the Armistice. It 
ran as follows: 

"The German Government has declared its readiness to evacuate 
the occupied territories. It further declares its willingness to stop 
the U-boat campaign. In so doing it assumes that the details of 
these proceedings and the conditions of the Armistice must be judged 
and discussed by military experts." 

The majority of the representatives of the Government were in 
favour of the point of view defended by von Payer and myself, and 
Dr. Solf received instructions to draft a new Note to this effect to 
be laid before the Cabinet at its afternoon session. 

Before this took place, the Ambassadors, Count Wolff Metter- 
nich, Count von Brockdorff-Rantzau, and Dr. Rozen, were invited 


Germany's High Sea Fleet 

to express their views; the representatives of the Navy were not 
present. Their statements very soon brought about a complete 
change in the views of the Cabinet. They now urged that the 
U-boat campaign should be sacrificed without any return being 
demanded. The new draft Note unconditionally consented to spadt 
passenger ships. 

I again emphatically expressed my grave fears with regard to 
this dangerous concession, pointing out that by omitting to fix any 
time-limit they made it possible for Wilson to prolong the negotia- 
tions, while the U-boat campaign must, as a fact, cease, and the 
pressure upon the Army would continue. By conceding this yet 
should admit that we had hitherto acted wrongfully, and would set 
free hundreds of thousands of people in England who had so far 
been bound by the U-boat campaign. But I did not succeed in 
getting my view accepted; even the telegram sent to the Imperial 
Chancellor by the Supreme Army Command that they could not 
in any circumstances dispense with the U-boat campaign as a 
means of obtaining an armistice could not alter the decision of 
the Cabinet. They were all firmly convinced that they could not 
justify themselves before the German people if negotiations \iitb 
Wilson were broken off, and that this would be inevitable if we did 
not unconditionally concede what was demanded of us. 

The form of the Note determined at an evening session contained 
the sentence : 

"In order to avoid anything that might make the attainment ot 
peace more difficult, at the instigation of the German Government 
all U-boat commanders have been strictly forbidden to torpedo 
passenger ships." 

I declared to the War Cabinet that if we were loyally to csLvry 
out this concession, all U-boats sent out to make war upon commerce 
must immediately be recalled. 

I required the consent of the Emperor to issue this order. As 
His Majesty was convinced of the serious military consequences, 
he used his personal influence to try and induce the Imperial Chan- 
cellor to alter the decision of the Cabinet. But the Emperor did 
not succeed in making the Chancellor change his opinions, so that 
His Majesty then informed me through the Deputy Chief of the 
Ministry of Marine that the Imperial Chancellor had represented 
the situation as such that the U-boat campaign must be abandoned. 


The Navy Command 

An attempt on my part to make the Imperial Chancellor at 
least put a time limit for the concession in the Note in the same 
manner became fruitless. He declared that we wpre not in a 
position to make conditions, and the Navy must bow to the inevitable 
and at all costs avoid provocative incidents. I assured the Chan- 
cellor that we should do our best and that all U-boats should be 
recalled from the campaign against commerce. This decision as to 
the limitation of the U-boat campaign was very important because 
the further operative measures of the Navy Command depended 
upon it; the High Sea Fleet must again now obtain complete free- 
dom of action. 

So long as hostilities continued at the front, and there was for 
the present no indication of their ceasing, the Navy must not remain 
entirely inactive, while the attacks of the enemy on our Western 
Front grew ever fiercer, unhindered by any fear of U-boats. A 
success at sea must have a favourable influence upon the terms of 
]3eace, and would help to encourage the people ; for the demands of 
the enemy would depend on the powers of resistance that we were 
prepared to oppose to them, and upon the consideration whether 
their own power was sufficiently great to enforce their demands. 
Anything that would impair their power must be to our ad- 

The U-boats liberated from the cc^nmercial war materially in- 
creased the Fleet's power of attack, and by choosing the point of 
attack wisely it was highly probable an expedition of the Fleet 
might achieve a favourable result. If the Fleet suffered losses, it was 
to be assumed that ithe enemy's injuries would be in proportion, and 
that we should still have sufficient forcc;^ ^o protect the U-boat 
campaign in the North Sea, which would have to be resumed if 
the negotiations should make imperative a continuation of the 
struggle with all the means at our disposal. 

On October 21, when the Note had been dispatched to President 
Wilson, the U-boats received orders of recall, and my Chief of 
Staff, Commodore von Levetzow, was commissioned to inform 
the Fleet Command in Wilhelmshaven of the course of the 
negotiations, and to take to them the Order of the Nayy Com- 
mand: *'The forces of the High Sea Fleet are to be made ready 
for attack and battle with the English Fleet." The Commander-in- 
Chief of the Fleet, Admiral von Hipper, had already drawn up plans 
for such a proceeding, as its necessity was foreseen. A plan directed 
ag-ainst the English Channel received the preference and my assent; 
X 353 

Germany's High Sea Fleet 

it was to be carried out as soon as possible. The execution, however, 
bad to be delayed for a few days owing tm necessary preparations; 
the U-boats had to be sent to their stations, and the cruisers fitted 
out with mines to be laid along the enemy's probable line of ap- 
proach. The Fleet was finally assembled for this enterprise in the 
outer roads of Wilhelm^aven on October 28. » 

Meanwhile, at noon on October 24, President Wilson's reply had 
been made known, and this quite clearly demanded complete capitu- 
lation. Animated by the same views as the Supreme Army Com- 
mand I went with my Chief of Sta£F together with the General 
Field-Marshal and General Ludendorff (on the former's invitation) | 
to Berlin, in order to be on the ^pot in case we were wanted for | 
the deliberations arising from the new situation. We could ' 
not imagine that the Government could do otherwise than | 
reply to this new demand of Wilson's by a direct refusal, 
consonant with the honour of the nation and its power of resist- 
ance. I 

Immediately on their arrival in Berlin in the afternoon of the 1 
35th, the Generak Field-Marshal and General Ludendorff had been I 
sent for by the Emperor. At this interview General Ludendoifi i 
received the impression that the Emperor would adhere to the 1 
suggestions of the GovernmetU, so that all that was left to us was \ 
to discover f(om the Vice-Chancellor, von Payer (the Imperial Chan- 
cellor himself had fallen ill), what decisions the Government would 

This interview took place in the evening of the asth, but its 
results were entirely n^ative. In spite of the most urgent argu- 
ments on the part of General Ludendorff, which the 'General Field- \ 
Marshal and I endorsed, it was impossible to convince von Payer I 
that our national honour and our honour as soldiers made k im- 1 
perative that we should refuse Wilson's exorbitant conditions* The 1 
Field-Marshal and General Ludendcnff declared they would hold the j 
Western Front through the winter. It was in vain. Herr von Payer j 
would not believe Ludendorff 's assertions; he wanted to hear thei 
opinicm of other generals at the front. But, above all, he had 
lost all faith in the powers of resistance of the people and the 

The discussion had to be brdcen off without result, as the Vice- 
Chancellor could not be moved to make any concessions. Even I 
when asked if, when the full conditions — in so far as they were tanta-| 
mount to capitulation — came into force, the people would not bei 


The Navy Gommaad 

called upon to make a last struggle, Herr Payer only answered: 
"We must first see what the situation would then be/* 

At an interview the next morning, granted by His Majesty to 
the Field-Marshal and General Ludendor£F, the latter tendered his 
resignation, which the Emperor accepted. 

The Government's answer to Wilson's latest demand was as 
follows :' 

"The German Government has duly noted the reply of the 
President of the United States. The President is ^ware of the 
fundamental changes that have taken place and are still taking place 
in the German Constitution. The peace negotiations will be carried 
on by a Government of the people, in whose hands the decisive power 
actually and constitutionally lies. The military forces are also subject 
to it. The German Government, therefore, looks forward to the 
proposals for an armistice, which shall lead to a peace of justice, such 
as the President has defined in his utterances.'* 

The expectation that the negotiations would ^ take a favourable 
course, as the Government seemed to imagine, was doomed to disap- 
pointment. General Ludendorff 's prophecy was amply fulfilled ; he 
predicted that if we continued to yield, the end must be disastrous, 
because the Government had neglected to steel the wilLof the people 
for a supreme effort. 

But we suffered the bitterest disappointment at the hands of the 
crews of the Fleet. Thanks to an unscrupulous agitation which had 
been fermenting for a long time, the idea had taken root in their 
minds that they were to be uselessly sacrificed. They were en- 
couraged in this mistaken belief, because they could see no indication 
of a will to decisive action in the bearing of the Governments 
Insubordination broke out when, on October 29, the Commander- 
in-Chief of the Fleet was making preparations to weigh anchor for 
the planned attack. As always, the intentions and aim of the 
expedition had been kept secret from the crews, until they were at 
sea. The mutiny was at first confined to a few battle^ips and 
first class cruisers, but it assumed such dimensions on these ships 
that the Commander-in-Chief of the Fleet thought it incumbent upon 
him to desist from his project. By seizing the agitators and im- 
prisoning them in the meantime in Wilhelmshaven, he hoped that 
the ships could be calmed down. The crews of the torpedo-boats 
and the U-boats had remained thoroughly loyal. 


Germany's High Sea Fleet 

The Commander-in-Chief of the Fleet reported these events to 
the Navy Command on November 2, saying that they were due to 
a Bolshevist movement, directed by members of the Independent 
Social Democratic Party, on board the ships. As a means of agita- 
tion, they had made use of the statement that the Government wanted 
peace and the officers did not. Every provocation ol the enemy by 
attacks of the Fleet would hinder the peace ; that was why the officers 
wanted to continue the offensive. The <^cers wanted to take the . 
Fleet out and allow it to be annihilated, or even annihilate it them- 

Since October 39, when the first signs of dissatisfaction had 
become manifest, the movement had continued to ^read, so that 
he did not think it possible to undertake an <^en^ve with the Fleet. 
The Commander-in-Chief of the Fleet, theref<Ke, detached the indivi- 
dual groups, sending Squadron III to the Jade to place them in 
the keeping of the commanding officers there. 

After that, quiet seemed to prevail again in Wilhelmshaven ; 
but when Squadron III reached Kiel, disturbances broke out there 
on the evening of November i. The Governor, Admiral Souchon, 
succeeded in preserving order for a little while, but on November 3 
the disturbances grew, because they met with no vigorous opposi- 
tion. Even the deputies sent by the Government to Kiel could not 
achieve any permanent improvement in the situation; just as little 
effect was produced by the proclamation of His Majesty the Empetot 
which the Imperial Chancellor now published, and which announced 
his complete agreement with the Government. Energetic measures 
against the agitators, which might at the beginning have met with 
success, were only possible under the protection of strong bodies 
of troops which the Ministry of War dispatched. But the troops 
proved untrustworthy. Nor did they arrive in sufficient numbers to 
produce the desired effect. 

I have no official reports of the details of the Revoluticxi ii^hich 
soon blazed up at all the Naval stations, lor the military authcMrities 
were deprived of their power of command. The instructions issued 
by the Navy Command to the commanding officers to sink ships 
hoisting the red flag were not forwarded. They would, at least, 
have been of guidance to such officers who were in doubt as to 
what they should do, if they still possessed the power to do any* 
thing. Nothinjg but energetic action on the part of the superlot 
officers who were on the spot could have saved the situation. 
Whether they failed in their duty, or whether the extent oi lYvt 


The Navy Command 

movement was underestimated, is gn open questipn. Only when the 
history of the Revolution is written shall we get full information on 
the point. The evil-doers who picked out the Fleet as the means 
by which to attain their ends committed a terrible crime against the 
Germao nation* They deprived it of the weapon which at the deci- 
sive hour might have saved us frc»n the fate which now weighs upon 
us so intolerably. 



" T HAVE fio longer a Navy/' 
X With these words the Emperor repudiated my objecticnis when 
<Mi the afternoon of November 9 I urged that if he resigned the 
Navy would be without a leader. Deep disappmntment sounded in 
these wordSy the last that I jieard from His Majesty. 

In the evening of* the Same day the Armistice conditions were 
published, among which was the demand tot the surrender of the 
German Fleet and of all the U-boats. No opposition could be 
expected from the Revolutionary Giovemment. It consented to 
everything in order to get rid of the hated ** Militarism," and deli- 
vered the defenceless German people into the hands of its enemies. 
A curse lies on the Navy because out of its ranks Revolution first 
sprang and spread over the land ; and many who r^arded its deeds 
with pride are to this day at a loss to know how such a change can 
have been possible. 

The conditions of life on the large ships, the close quarters in 
which the men lived, favoured the propagation of this agitation, 
which was spread by any and every means. Further, the crews were 
most easily exposed to temptation because of their close connection 
with the Homeland. But the most important and the decisive cause 
was this : the war-weariness of the whole nation, increased by hunger 
and all sorts of privations, had become so widespread that even the 
fighting forces had lost faith in a happy end to the war. 

On the day when the German National Assembly accepted that 
fatal peace which perpetuates hatred the deed acoMnpHshed at Scapa 
Flow once more gave evidence of the spirit which inspired the Navy, 
as it did the Army, in the days when they rejoiced in battle. How- 
ever much we are bowed down, we can still do justice to all the great 
things that were achieved* That is the only comfort that we can take 
in regarding the dark future that awaits us; it is the foundation- 
stone upon which to build up new hopes. The strength which the 
German people developed enabled us to withstand the CMislaught 
of overwhielmingly superior forces for four and a half years, to keep 
the enemy out of our own country, to fell the giant Russia, and 
even to bring England, who thought herself unassailable, to the 



brinlc of destruction; this strength oi ours was so mighty that our 
downfall could only be accomplished by extraordinary means : we 
had to inflict defeat upon ourselves. 

The credit of inventing this expedient bel<Nigs to England, and 
the surrender of our Fleet appears as the great triumph which her 
sea power has won. History will not find much that is worthy of 
praise in the way England waged the war at sea ; it may laud her 
ultimate success, but not the means by which it was achieved. The 
very surrender of our ships is the best proof that we were not defeated 
until in the Homeland the will to continue the struggle had been 
so sapped by hunger and privation that m^.j^ple were susceptible 
to the poisonous ideas spread by enemy prop^anda, of which an un- 
scrupulous Revolutionary party made use to attain its selfish ends. 
It was England's privilege to extend the war to the economic sphere 
in an unheard-of manner. The fight for sea commerce was to lead 
to the strangling of the whole German people. For that purpose 
violence had to be done to the rights of the neutrals, whose power, 
oompafed with that of the ring of our enemies, was of no avail. 
England's policy of alliance placed her in a position to carry out 
her plan of starvation, without any fear of a protest from civilised 
society. She cleverly diverted attention from the enormity of 
her proceedings by simultaneously opening a campaign of lies 
about Germany's atrocities and Hun-like behaviour. Widespread 
financial . operations, moreover, united American with English 

It was the task of our Fleet to defeat the English blockade, or to 
neutralise the effects of it by the damage it inflicted on the enemy. 
The latter method was chosen. The U-boat proved to be a suitable 
means to this end. We must be grateful that the technical develop- 
ment of the U-boat had reached such perfection, just in the nick of 
time, that these craft could be sent out to such distances and for such 
length of time as the war against commerce demanded. Fault- 
finding is an objectionable quality of the German. Many a time 
he has scorned and belittled the great work of twenty years <^ build- 
ing a Navy which should be able to meet the English Fleet in batde. 
The accusations made are false and prove nothing but the ignorance 
or the ill-will of those who make them. No doubt our ships had 
faults— no naval authorities can make a claim to infallibility — but 
they were of absolutely no account compared with the fact that the 
material, as well as the spirit and training of the crews, were so 
good that our Fleet was able to hold its own against the English. 


. -~ 1- ■>■ 

Germany's High Sea Fleet 

Only a ship-building industry like that of Germany, which, as the 
German Fleet developed, produced such super-excellent ships, could 
have helped to supplement our Fleet during the war by the con- 
struction of a new U-boat fleet. The reliability of the material, 
and the manner in which the boats were built, increased the 
courage of the crews who, with full trust in their weapon, could 
dare all. 

In view of England's plan of campaign, there was no alternative 
but to inflict direct injury upon English commerce. We could not 
build a sufiiciendy great number ci additional large ships to com- 
pensate for the inevitable losses which we were bound to suffer in 
the long run in a conflict with the numerically superior English Fleet. 
In carrying out their blockade, that Fleet had the advantage of 
choosing its field of action in the Northern waters, far removed 
from our bases. After their experiences in action, the English left 
the southern part of the North Sea for us to deploy in, and con- 
tented themselves with warding off the U-boat danger. Through- 
out they were forced to be on tl^ defensive. We ought to have tried 
earlier what the result of a victory by our Fleet would be. It was 
a mistake on the part of the naval leaders not to do so. It was 
<mly after we had been proved in battle that we gained sufficient 
confidence to send the U-boats permanently into the North Sea to 
wage war on commerce against England, and in the teeth of the 
resistance of her Fleet. 

The earlier the U-boat campaign was started in full earnest, the 
greater was the prospect of being able to go through with it; it 
was wrong to wait until the endurance of our people had been tried 
to the utmost by the effects of the blockade. The number of boats 
at the beginning of igi6 would have been amply sufficient for the 
purpose. The success of a U-boat campaign does not depend solely 
on the number of the boats, but rather upon their quality and the 
skill of their navigators. U-boats of great speed and unlimited 
powers of remaining at sea, which could not be caught, would soon 
paralyse the sea traffic of an Island State like England. As such 
an ideal was not capable of full attainment, the greater number of 
boats had to make up for the lack of perfection. The results achieved 
fulfilled, and even surpassed, expectation, even though a criminally 
long time was allowed the enemy to organise his defence. That we 
did not reach the limit of England's endurance in time was due, not 
to the ill-success of the U-boats, but to the encouragement which the 
enemy found in his hour of need in our political attitude and that 



of our Allies. Why should he lower his colours when in July, 1917, 
we cried to him : " We want peace," — ^which in his ears sounded like 
"We need peace " — and when we let Austria and our enemies 
know that the country could not continue the war longer than 
the autumn of that year? The worse the enemy fared, the more 
boldly he bore himself. We, unfortunately, adopted the opposite 

From the very first a large proportion of the people had been 
ner\'ous as to the disadvantageous effects of the U-boat campaign. 
This had become a party question, owing to its treatment in Parlia- 
ment and the Press. The leading statesman's dislike of it was openly 
acknowledged everywhere ; he left the decision to the Supreme Army 
Command, who were to fix the date in accordance with the general 
military situation, and he put the responsibility on their shoulders. 
True, the nation had absolute confidence in the Supreme Army 
Command, because the generals in command had earned this con- 
fidence. In this question of life and death, too, they formed an 
opinion in common with the Naval Staff, and decided upon 
action when no other means of breaking the enemy's resistance was 
to be found. But to succeed we had need of the confidence and 
co-operation of the whole nation, so that they might hold out until 
success was ensured. The Reichstag resolution of July, 1917, must 
have been viewed by the enemy as a proof that this confidence did 
not exist. 

From then onwards there was no question of the enemy's yield- 
ing. Now, a year after the conflict has ceased, we get indications 
from England every day of how hopeless the situation seemed there. 
But realising their weakness, they were able to weather the critical 
period in the autumn of 1917 by seizing enemy shipping for their 
own ends, and they strove zealously to intensify the disintegrating 
forces which were at work amongst us. This war has taught us to 
what an extent a nation can limit its economic needs. For more 
than a year after the conclusion of the Armistice we bore the 
burden of the blockade although huge quantities of supplies had to 
be left in enemy hands, or were idly squandered, when our troops 

Our situation would not have been worse had the war continued, 
while the enemy would have kept on losing an amount of tonnage 
that could not be replaced. 

But his will to endure was stronger than ours, for he recognised 
the weakness of our Government, whose leaders, unlike those of 
X* 361 

. 1-» 


Germany's High Sea Fleet 

the enemy Cabinets, did not have the whole-hearted support of 
representatives of the majority of the people. 

The World- War was to be a test for the German nation, whether 
it could hold its own as a factor of civilisation overseas. The British 
tried with might and main to oust it from its position, when the 
might of the German Empire was behind it. They felt the danger 
that lay in our superior diligence, the excellence of German work, 
and the sterling qualities of German education and culture as 
compared with the shallow civilitotion of the Anglo-Saxons meant 
for nothing but effect. •.' Our peaceful penetration was met with 
violence. How great they thought the danger is shown by the 
mighty efforts of our enemies to crush us. 

They have attained their object, because our leading statesmen 
at the outbreak of war did not recognise the magnitude of our task, 
or — which is worse — looked upon it as beyond our strength. If the 
great aim had been rightly realised then, if it had been pursued with 
all the forces and strength at our disposal, and if the nation^s will 
to victory had been continually directed towards it, we might have 
been sure of success. 

The enormity and baseness of the methods with which our down- 
fall had been planned, inflamed the sense of antagonism in our 
people to a degree which it could not otherwise have attained. The 
nation, however, could not fail to grow weary of its efforts when 
the only aim that was left to it after long years of fighting and 
starvation was that of self-preservation ; it was deluded by enemy 
craft and wiles into thinking that this could be secured by other 

Thus dissension arose at home, and our strength was exhausted 
in internecine strife for a phantom of national freedom; and the 
only palpable resuk of all this, brought about by the Revolution, 
is the helplessness of that freedom, deprived as it is of the power to 
defend itself from foreign aggression. 

Toil and labour must start afresh to raise the honour of the 
German Navy. In this task the Fatherland will feel the lack of 
many capable men, who cannot live in the straitened circumstances 
that have been forced upon us, and who will migrate elsewhere. 
But our hopes are centred on these, that they will not deny their 
love of home, but will preserve their loyalty to their enslaved 
Fatherland and will cherish it in their descendants until the vitality 
of Germany, oppressed and overwhelmed as it now is, has won 
through to a new development. 



The Englishman may now think himself entitled to look down 
upon us with scorn and contempt, yet in his feelings of superiority 
there will always be the sting tihat he was not victorious in battle, 
and that his method of waging war is one that must recoil upon 
his own head* 

Other World Powers will appear upon the scene who will only 
concede a prerogative at sea to him whp, as in Nelson's days, can 
assert his pre-eminence in open conflict. 



Aaland Islands, 302 
Aboukir, sinking of, 58 
A casta, sinking of, 155 
Aeroplanes as scouts, 50, 211 

loss of five British, xi8 
Agincourt in Skagerrak Battle, 150, 170 
Ahlhorn, fire at, 210 

Zeppelin base at, 207 
Air raids, 113, 1x9, 120, 121, 122, 123, 
124, 127, 129, 179 

effects of, Z05, 118, 120 

general orders for, 105, xo6 

influence of weather on, 207 

injury to civilians in, 106 

London as objective of, iz8, 179 

objectives of, 207 

on London, 92, 118, 179, 207, 208 
Airships as scouts, 30, X35, X41, 164, 182, 
»85, 197, 205, 21 X 

development of, 203 et seq. 

Emperor's order on, X98 
Ajdx at Ki^, 1914, 3 
Albatross, 43 

Alcantara, sinking of, 112 
Altenbruch Roads as torpedo-boat base, 


Squadron 11 in, 26 
America, '* dictates of humanity," and, 
2x8, 228 
Lusiiania, and, 232 
proposed blockade of, 330, 331 
protest re Sussex of, 130, 242 
U-boat warfare, and, 218, 2x9, 228, 
229, 231, 232, 236, 239, 241, 245, 
251, 252, 254, 255, 349, 350, 351, 

352, 353 
American warships and convoy duty, 314 
Amman, parent ship to German mine- 
sweepers, 287 
Amphion, sinking of, 33 
Amrum Bank, minefields off, iii, 140 
protected anchorage at, 309 
protection of, 99 
Andes and Greif, xi2 
Anglo-Dutch convoy, raid planned on, 
197, 198 

Antwerp, surrender of, 96 

Apfam, 1x2 

Arabic, sinking of, 233 

Arethusa in Heligoland Bight, 46, 50, 51 

Ariadne, 44, 52 

sinking of, 45, 53, 54, 55 
Armed merchantmen, fight with U-boat, 

orders concerning, zo8, zio, 238, 253, 

to be treated as warships, 237 
U-boat campaign and, 232 
Armistice Commission, appointment of, 

Armistice, President Wilson and, 350 
et seq 
proposals for, 343, 344, 349, 351 
publication of conditions of, 358 
Army, co-operjition of Navy with, x8, 19, 

20 • 
Arngast, 49 

Attack in Dogger Bank action, 85 (note) 
Audacious at Kid, 19x4, 3 

sinking of, 61, 62 
Augsburg, 59, 29!$ 
Austrian ultimatum to Serbia, 8 
Azores, U-boats at, 261 

Bachmann, Adbosal, 90, 93, 253 

Baden, 195, 280, 283, 29X, 341 

Balfour, Mr., on German raids, 133, 

Balkans, evacuation of, 346 

Baltic as training area, 59, 64, 94, 280 
Commander-in-Chief in, x8 
English submarines in, 66 
German cruisers in, 135 
German offensive in, 58, 59, 92 
German operations in, 10; in 1917 iHf 

295 et seq 
plan of operations in, 25 
possibility of enemy attack in, 20 
Squadron III in, 75, 76 
Squadron IV in, 90 

Baltic Islands, conquest of, 295 '/ ^^i 

Baralong, 232 



Barkam in Skagerrak Battle, 143 {note) 
Barteabacfa, Lieut. -Commander, Chief of 

Flanders U-boats, 263 
Battle-Crniser Squadrons, English, in 

Skagerrak Battle, 14a et seq,, 146, 

«5»» «7o. J?*. »7a 
Battle Squadron, Fifth, English, in 

Skagerrak Battle, 143 

Bauer, Capt.', Chief Director of U-boats, 


on use of U-boats, 34 

Bayern, 175, 181, 195, 296, 341 

strikes mine in Baltic, 298 

Beatty, Admiral, in Heligoland Bight 

action, 44 

in Skagerrak Battle, 142, 143, 170, 171, 

»7a, 173 
on Dogger Bank action, 85 (note) 
Behncke, Vice-Admiral, 137, 156, 176, 195, 

296, 299 
Bdgian Relief Commission ships, U-boats 

and, 231 
Belt, The, mining by Danes of, 21 
Berlin, 61 

Bethmann-HoUweg, armistice and, 343 
dismissal of, 343 
U-boat campaign and, 223, 229, 239, 

244» 253 
Biermann, Commander, KSnigin Luise, 

Birmingham at Kid, 191 4, 3 

Black Prince, sinking of, 153, 155 

BlitB, 14 

Blockade, English Fleet and, 2x7 

results of, 216 

Winston Churchill on, 216 
Blacker, 4, 15, 38 

in attack on East Coast, 70 

in Dogger Bank action, 77 et seq, 

sinking of, 84, 85 
Bodicker, Rear-Admiral, 126 

bombardment of Lowestoft and Yar- 
mouth and, 128 

in Skagerrak Battle, 137, 141, 150 
Bogotyr, torpedoing of, 300 
Borkum, aerial base at, 99, 201, 304 
Braune Bank, 197 
Bremen, U-trader, 264, 265 
Bremse, 301, 309, 318 
Breslau in Mediterranean, 15 
Brilliant at Ostend, 339 
British Battle Fleet, composition of, 


Bruges as Headquarters of Naval Corps, 


as torpedo-boat base, 189 

as U-boat base, 338, 340 

evacuation of, 346 
Brummer, 301, 309, 318 
Brunsbuttel, as Fleet Base, loi 
Bulgaria, collapse of, 342 

U-boats for, 259 
BCUow, Rear-Admiral von, 333 

Caphui^ Aduikal von, 247, 293, 328 

retirement of, 337 
Caroline bombed in Humber, 105 
Carson, Sir £., as hindrance to peace, 

Cattoro, evacuation of, 347 

Centurion at Kiel, 19 14, 3 

Channel Fleet, composition of, 24 

Chester, sinking of, 150 {note)^ 170 

Chief of Naval Staff, duties of, 17, 18 

Churchill, Winston, on blockade, 216 

Cleopatra, ooUision with Undaunted, iig 

sinks **G 194,* 119 
Commander-in-Chief of Fleet, authority 
of, 17 

plan of campaign of, 26 

position in battle of, 146 

war orders to, 25 
Comus, 112 

Convoy flotillas for U-boats, 262, 289 
Convoys as protection against U-tx>ats, 
262, 273 

attacks on, 309 et seq, 318 et seq 
Coronel, battle of, 67 
Cressy, sinking of, 58 
" Cressy '' class in Skagerrak Battle, x6i 
Cruiser action after East Coast raid, 71- 

in November, 1917, 304 et seq 

Cruisers, weakness of High Sea Fleet in, 

Curtis plane, ezoellence of, 100 

Cuzhaven as Naval Base, 100 

as torpedo-boat base, loi 

Danks, mining of The Belt by, 21 
Dannig, 44, 45, 55, 88, 296 
Danzig Bay as Naval Base, 6 
Declaration of London, England and, 215, 

216, 218 
Defence, sinking of, 153, 155 
Depth charges, 262, 274-275, 288 


Derfflinger, 15 

in attack on Scarborough, 70 
in Dogger Bank action, 77 ei seq 
in Skagerrak Battle, 137, 155, 169, 

Destroyer action in Heligoland Bight, 43 
et seq 

off Horns Reef, 9a 
Deutschland, 13 

in Skagerrak Battle, 137 
*' Directional stations," 73 
Dogger Bank, cruiser action off, 76 et seq, 

light cruisers off, 42 

proposed concentration of Fleet on, 197 

torpedo-boat action off, 107 
Dohna, Count zu, Commander of Moewe, 

95. I" 
Dover, Zeppelin raid on, 179, 209 

Dover Straits, defences of, 188 

importance of securing, 19 

torpedo-boat raid on, 188 
Dresden, 15 

at Coronet, 67 


E 3," sinking of, 63 
"E 9" sinks Hela, 56 
East Coast, cruiser raids on, 66, 103, 
12^ et seq; effect on public of, 133 

U-boats off, 196 

U^ minelayers for, 260, 272-273 
Eckermann, Rear-Admiral, 16 
Eckernfdrde, U-boat school at, 341 
Elbe as Fleet Base, 21 

minefields a;t mouth of, 26 

removal of lightship from, 31 
Elbing, Z28 

in Skagerrak Battle, 138, 141, 160, 162, 
Emden, 15, 234 

successful cruise of, 58 
Emden (new), 296, 298, 299, 311, 312 
Engel, Rear-Admiral, 175 
England, avoidance of provocation of, 11 

boastfulness of, x 

Captain Mahan on Sea Power of, ix 

dedaration of war by, 27 

defence against U-boats of, 261 et seq, 

favourable treatment of, 26 

hypocrisy over war measures of, 106, 
107, 232 

influence on German war plans of, 19 

question of neutrality of, 8 
methods of, 359 

English Channel, defences of, 188, 189, 
289, 314 

minefields at entrance to, 2x5 

proposed attack on, 353 

transport service of, 63, 64 

torpedo-boat raid into, 188, 314-3x8 

U-boats in, 267-272, 289 
English coast, difficulties of attack on, 21 
English Fleet, advantages in attack of, 21 

at Skagerrak Battle, 131 et seq,, 170 

mobilisation of, 8, 12 

probable tactics of, 7, 11, 18, 20, 21, 

34, 25 
protection of transports, and, 19, 20 

tactics of, 34, 37, 39, 73, 89, 217 

traditions and advantages of, 11 

English Squadron at Kiel, 1914, 3 

Erzberger, State Secretary, on Armistice 

and U-boat campaign, 351 


F " BOATS^ characteristics of, 287 
Falkenhayn, Gen. von, and unrestricted 

U-boat warfare, 105, 246 
Falkland Islands, battle of, English 

public opinion and, 96 
Fearless in Heligoland Bight, 46 
Finland, German assistance to, 302 
Firth of Forth, U -minelayer off, 124 

U-boats off, 136, X79, 320 
Flanders coast, abandoimient of, 340- x, 

543* 344 
as torpedo-boat base, 179, 187, 281, 

3»4-3i7» 346 
as U-boat base, 62, 117, X24, 135, x8o, 

259, 260, 261, 262, 263, 340, 345 

Folkestone, Zeppelin raid on, 179 

Forstmann, Walter, Lieut. -Commander, 


** Foxglove," submarine chaser, 268, 278 

Frankfurt, 128, 296, 307 

in Skagerrak Battle, 138, x66 

Franz Ferdinand, Archduke, murder 

of, 4 

Frauenlob, 43, 46 

in Skagerrak Battle, 137, 162 

Freights, effect of U-boat warfare on, 234 

Freya as training ship, 14 

Friedrich der Grosse, flagship, 13, 91, 

xio, 174, 175, 196, 292, 296, 299 

in Skagerrak Battle, 136, 148, 153, 

157, 158 
Friedrichsort, torpedo establishment at, 

60, 341 



Fiisian IsUnds, English minefields off, 

Funke, Rear-Admiral, 13, 74 

<'G 116,'* sinking of, 62 

**G 194" sank by Cleopatra, 119 

Gnedecke, Rear-Admiral, 13 

General Headquarters, Admiral Scheer 

*t, 333-337 
George V., King, on England's 

neatrality, 8 
George, Mr. Lloyd, as hindrance to 

peace, 195, 251 
Gerard Mr., desired Germany's defeat, 

German Bight, English minefields in, 

75> 93» 289 
English submarines in, 27, 39, 42, 74, 

100^ 101 
German minefields in, 102 
night expeditions in, 102 
protection of, 28, 38, 98, 99, loa, 130, 

tactical disadvantages of, 21, 22, 28, 

German Emperor, Armistice negotiations, 

and, 350, 352, 354 
as Supreme War Lord, 17, 325, 329 
at U-boat school, 341 
departure for Norway of, 5 
murder of Archduke, and, 4 
mutiny in Fleet, and, 293, 356 
order against risking batde^ips of, 

order on aerial scouting by, 198 
report on Skagerrak to, 167 
unrestricted U-boat warfare, and, 110, 

230, 238, 242-3, 253 
visits to Fleet of, no, 175, 292 
German Fleet, additions to, 97, 195-6 
aim of, 97, 213 
and North Sea, 20 
as supporter of German prestige, 5 
aspirations of, 10, ix 
command of the Baltic, and, 20, 92 
co-operation of Army with, 18, 19, 20 
English transports, and, 19 
enthusiasm for war of, 10 
Grand Admiral von Tirpits and 

devdopment of, 17, 18 
influence of U-boat warfare on, 199 
methods of training in, 14 
mutiny in, 292, 355 

German Fleet, organisation of, 14, 325 
preparedness of, 28, 33, loi, 102 
sinking of, 358 
surrender of, 358 
system of command in, x6 
tactics of, 40, 57, 67, 68, 87, 88, 91, 

96, 97. 98 
training of, 6, 7 

visit to Norway, 1914, 5, 8 

war preparations of, 9 

German National Assembly acc^ts peace, 


Germany, aspirations to Sea Power of, 
z-zi, zii 

spirit of, z 

starvation of, object of British 
Government, 219 
Ghent, evacuation of torpedo-boats from, 

Glasgow, at Coronel, 67 
Gleaves, Admiral (U.S.A.), and " U 53," 

Gneisenau, 15 

at Coronel, 67 
Goeben in Mediterranean, 15 

handed to Turkey, 346, 347 
Good Hope, sinking of, 67 
Goodenough, Commodore, at Kid, 19x4, 3 
Grand Fleet at Skagerrak Battle, 151 et 

change in command of, 196 

composition of, 22, 23 

enlargement of, 196 

movements after Skagerrak of, 182 ei 
Graudenus 77 

Great Bdt mined by Danes, 60 
Greif, fight with Alcantara, 112 
Grepow, Vice- Admiral, 15 
Grom, capture of, 299 
Grosser KurfUrsi, 73, 174, 175, 181, 195 

collision with Kronprint, 281 

strikes mine in Baltic, 298 

torpedoing of, 192 

Hagb^ Zeppelin base at, 118, 207 
Hague Conference, mines in open sea, 
and, 107 
Second, Declaration of London, and, 
Hamburg, 35, 4a, 69, 72 

in Skagerrak Battle, 138 
Hampshire, sinking of, 167, 200 



Hangar, the ideal, 207 
Hannover, 13 

ffansa, as trainiiig ship, 14 
Harbours, protection of, 30 
Hartlepool, bombardment of, 69 et seq, 
Harwich, Zeppelin raid on, 137, 179, 209 
Hawke, sinking of, 91 
Heinecke, Commander, 396, 311 
Heinecke Torpedo-boat Flotilla, raid on 

Channel by, 314-318 
Heinrich, Cominodore, 296, 298 
Hela, 14 

sinking of, 56, 62 
Hagoland, 13, 175, 195 
Heligoland, as aerial base, 30, 99, 201 

as apex of " Wet Triangle," 21 

as torpedo-boat base, loi, 187 

as U-boat base, 34 

defences of, 30 

eracnation of population of, 30 

German Emperor at, 294 

German minefields off, 55, 56 

importance of, 102 
Heligoland Bight, destroyer action in, 43 
ei seq, . 

English minefield in, 199 

English submarines in, 42, 43, 44, 62 

protection of, 27 
Helsingfors, capture of, 301-303 
Henkel-Gebhardi, Admiral von, 175 
Henry of Prussia, and U-boat warfare, 

Commander-in-Chief, in Baltic, 9 

King George and, 9 

visit to High Sea Fleet, no 
Hering, Rear-Admiral, Chief of Torpedo 

Faotories, 341 
Hermes, sinking of, 63 
Herta as training ship, 14 
Hessen, 8, 13 
High Sea Fleet, composition of, 13, 14, 

concentration of, in Jade, 10 

enlargement of, 6 

in Skagerrak Battle, 133 ei seq, 

increased crews of, 16 

movements of, Aug., 1916, 182 et seq,; 

May, 19x7, 280 ei seq. 

objective of, 25 

organisation of, 14 

plan of operations of, 25 

regroopinf of, 195 

scope of Commander-in-Chief of, 16 


High Sea Fleet, war orders to, 25 

weakness in cruisers of, 15 
Hindenhurg, 196, 282, 307, 333 
Hindenburg, Field-MarshfiJ von, Armi^ 
stioe negotiations, and, 354, 355 
unrestricted U-boat warfare, and, 
190, 194, 246-47 
Hipper, Admiral, 13, 138, 320, 322, 33a, 


bombardment of Scarborough and 

Hartlepool, and, 68 
in charge of protective system, 28 ' 
in Dogger Bank action, 77 et seq. 
in Skagerrak Battle, 137, 140 
Hogue, sinking of, 58 
Holland, sinking of Kaiwyk, and, 231, 

Holtxendorff, Admiral von, 93, 1x0, 253, 

a47i a54» 330 
memo on unrestricted U-boat warfare 

of, 248-252 
resignation of, 324 
Hoof den. The, 93, 103, 113, 123, 124, 126, 

197, 280 
H<^mian, Vioe-Admiral, 296, 299, 300 
Horns Reef, destroyer engagement ofi, 

9«» 94 
German Fleet retires on, 159, 162, 163 

minefields oft, in, 282, 283 
Hospital ships, justification for sinking 
of, 62 

U-boats and, 231 
Housatonu, torpedoing of, 271 
Hull, iZeppelin raid on, 1x3 et seq,, 122 
Humber, minefield off, 43, 75 

U-boats off, 38, 136 

Zeppelin raids over, 105, 11^ et seq. 
"Hunger blockade," 96 

IiouNGBAii, Zeppelin raid on, xx6 

Imperial Pilot Service, 31 

Indefatigable, sinking of, in Skagerrak 

Bttttls, X42, 163 
Independent Social Democratic Party, 
mutiny in Fleet, and, 292, 293, 356 
lagenohl. Admiral von, appointed Com- 
mander-in-Chief, 6 
on war prospects, 8 
on U-boats, 39 
retirement of, 87 
sails for North Sea, 9 
Invincible, sinking of, i55f 163 
Italy, secession of, 233, 234 


Jadb^ ts Fleet Btee, et 
Gennan Fleet io the, lo 
reniOTil d lightehip from, 31 

Jemmer Bay, Engliih Fleet in, t6t, 165, 

»7«t «73 
Jelliooe, Admiral Lord, ae OMDmaiider 

(rf Grand Fleet, ea 
at Ska^errak Battle, 153, 158 {m^U), 

170^ 171, lye, 173 
minee in Heligoland Bight, and, 

on objecte oi Britieh Fleet, 94 
on Eaet Coaet raids, 7a 
on Skagerrak Battle, 169, 17a {noU) 
on Skagerrak loesee, 167 
/uttiiis, torpedoing of, 274-277 

Xaisrr, 7, 13, 196, 285, 296, 998, 304, 

in Skagerrak Battle, 137 

Kaiser Wilbeini Canal, aherationt in, 4 

diiBctth passage of, 34 
cmisers in, 4 
usee of , so^ 19s 
I, 13, 196, 296, 299, 304, 307 

in Skagerrak Battle, 148 
Karlsruke, 234, 296 
Kaiwyk, sinking of, 231 
Kiel, as Naval Base, 4 

English squadron at, 1914, 3 

mobilisation of Fleet at, 9 

U-boat school at, 341 
Kiel Week, 1914, 3 

fraternisation of English and German 
officers at, 4 
King Edward, sinking of, 112 
King Gwrgt V., at Kid, 1914, 3 
King SUfken and <* L 19,*' 128 

sinking of, 128 
Kirkwall, examination station at, 266 
Kitchener, Lord, death of, 167, 200 
Kitchener's Army, 96 
" Kite,*' submarine, 288, 304 
Knight, Admiral (U.S.A.), and " U 53,** 

KMerg, 14, 44, 70, 77, 78, 296, 300 
Kdln, 14, 42, 44, 45, 47, 53 
Kdnig, 74, 396 

in Skagerrak Battle, 137, 174, 175, 195 
Kdnig Albert, 7, 13, 140^ 196, 296, 299 
Kdnigin Lnise, sinking of, 33 
Kdnigsberg sinks Ptgasns, 58, 296, 305, 
307. 308 

Krah, Capt. Walter, Chief of Aoxiliaiy 

Mine Flotilla, 100^ 287 
Kranse^ Connwandeg, and Imperial Pilot 

Service, 31 
KromfrinB, 75, 195, S96 

ccJIision witii Grosser KurlnrH^ 981 
torpedoing of, 19a 

'lis Friedrich WUhdm, 33, 234 
:, Vice-Admiral von, 30 
Kflhhnann, Ton, 194 

*' L 3 " as long-distance scout, 30 
**L It" after Skagerrak, 164 

as scoot, 184 

raid on Hull by, 113 «/ seq, 

raid on Tyne, Sunderland and 
Middleebrottgh by, 120, 121 

raid on Yarmouth fay, 12s 

raid on Whitby by, 123 
"L 15" shot down on Thamee, 120 
" L 19," King Stephen and loss af» 106, 

** L 20," loss of, 129 
**L 70,'MQesof, 211 
Landmarks, remoTal of, 30 
Lans, Vice-Admiral von, 9, 13 
Lavender, torpedoing of, 286 
Laverock, 118 
Lee, Civil Lord of Admiralty, on the 

Fleet, 11 
LeifBig, 15 

at Coronel, 67 
Levetsow, Captain von, 95, 136, 396 

Commodore, 332, 351, 353 
Libau, bombardment of, 59 
Lightships, removal of, 31 
Lincoln, Zepp^n raid on, 127 
Ls'on, in Dogger Bank action, 85 {noie), 

in Heligoland Bight action, 44, 53 

in Skagerrak Battle, 142 
List, aerial station at, 97, 99, sot 
Liverpool, Zeppelin raid on, 105 
Lond<m, air raids on, 92, 94, 1x8, 207, 

Lothringen, 8, 13 
Lowe, Commander Otto, and wrecked 

"L 19," 106 
Loweetoft, attempted raid on, 124 

et seg, 
Ludendorff, General, Armistice, and, 

343» 344-345. 350. 354. 355 
on abandonment of Flanders, 340 



Ludttidorfi, General, U-boat waxfare, 

and, 194, a47, 333, 337 
Luntania, excitement caused by sinking 
erf, 233 
sunk by '* U 90,*' 193 
LUtMOw, 15, 136, 134, 196 

in Skagerrak Battle, 138. 155, 156, 
«59. «^f «63i «^ >^ (**^*) 

'* M "-BOATS, Germaa minesweepers, a86 
Manas, Rear-Admiral, 13, 4a, 53 
Magdtburg, wreck erf, 59 
Mahnn, Captain, en £nglirf» sen power, 

MainM, 14, 4a, 44, 45 

sinking of, 49-53 
Malaya in Skagerrnk Baltle, 143 (mote) 
Mann-TieclUer, Vice-Admiral Hitter Ton, 

537> 344 
Markgraf, 74. 175, 181, 195, 396 

Marlborough, torpedoing of, at Skager- 
rak, 158, 166 
Mary Rose, sinking of, 310 
Manve, Rear-Admirial, 133, 137, t6o, 196 
Max of Baden, Prince, Admiral Scbeer 
aod, 349 
appointed Ctmnoel ter, 344, 347 
ArmisUce and, 345, 353, 353 
oa Peace Propc»als, 348 
Mediterranean, German cruisers in, 15 
U-boats in, 190, 333, 343, 359, 360, 
361, 363, 347 
Medusa, sunk by aerial bomb, 118, 119 
Merchant ships, armed, aentrala and, 

aaS, 3" 
arming of, 363 

bonus for sinking U*boats for, 333 

convoys for, 311 
Meteor, sinking of, 89 
Meorer, Reax-Admiial Ton, 301 
Mididsen, Commodore, 138, 156, 187, 363 
Middlesbrough, Zeppelin raid on, isi 
Minefieki, Danish, in Great Belt, 60 

off Elbe, 36 
Minefields, danger to U-boats of, 363 

EngUsb, at entrance to Channel, 60, 

Engli^, in German Bight, 75, 93, 199 

German, in German Bight, 36, 103 

German, off Sootlaad, 61 

naTigation lights round, 31 

Russian, in Gulf of Rig*i 91 
Mindayers, submarine, aoo, 359, a6o, a88 

Minelaying, in open sea, jnstifioation of, 
61, 107 
operations, difficulty of detecting, 


Mines, American, in North Sea, 291 

defences against, 388 

English, in North Sea, 34, 199, 381, 
389, 390, 391 

English types of floating, 37, 93 

first effects of, 37 

German, off English coast, 43, 60 

off Heligoland, 55, 56 

German, types of, 388 

use against Russia of, 21 
Mine-8weq>ers, new types of, 301 

protection of, 300 

types and numbers of, German, 288 
Mine-sweeping, for U-boaU, 362, 389-290 

German organisation of, 286-7 

new apparatus for, 100, 388 

service in North Sea, 100 
Moewe, in North Atlantic, 95 

rertnrn and success of, iii, 113, 113 

second cruise of, 194, 381 
Monmouth, sinking of, 66 
Moray Firth, U-boats off, 136 
Motor-boats, German, 387 
Mfiller, Admiral von, 334 

on U-boat warfare, 343-344, 346 
MoUhe, 14, 38, 193, 396, 397, 307 

in attack on East Coast, 70 

in Doggerbank action, 77 et seq, 

in Skagerrak Battle, 138, 155, 175 

strikes mine, 32X-322 

torpedoed, 93, 333 
Mutuhen, in Skagerrak Battle, 138 
Mutiny in German Fleet, 393, 355 

Nassau, 13, 195 

in Skagerrak Battle, 163 
Nautilus, 43 
Naval Corps, in Flanders, disbandment 


Naval organisation, German, Admiral 

Scheer on, 324 

policy, English, objects of, 313 

Staff, duties of, 17 

treatment of England, and, a6 
Navy Bills, provision of, zi, i4> '5 
Navy, German, inspires unity of nation, 

I7*» «77 
Nestor, sinking of, 148 
Nets, anti-submarine, 288-289 



N«iii«]irwiAMer, as Naval Base, 6 
Ntnminster, wireless station at, i8i 
Neutral flags, English misuse of, 225, 

Powers, German Note on armed mer- 
chantmen to, 108 

dipping, clangers of U-boats to, 228 

instruction to U-boats and, 227, ajo, 

warning by Germany to, 225 
Neutrals, armed convoys and, 311 

armed merchantmen and, 238, 311 

Tights of ignored by England, 2x8, 

U-boat campaign and, 228, 231 
A^iw Zealand, in Skagerrak Battle, 142 
Newport (U.S.A.), "U 53" at, 264, 265 
N^mad, 148 

Norderaey, seaplane base at, 201 
Nordhols, Zeppelin base at, 1x7, 207 
North Sea, American mines in, 291 

Auxiliary Mine-sweeper Flotilla, 287 

English control of, 2x5 

English mines in, 34, 281, 289, 290, 

Naval Stations, Headquarters, of, 30 

Seaplane Division, 2ox 
Norway, visit of Kaiser and Fleet to 

(«9i4), 5i 8 
expedition to coast of, 318 et seq 
Norwich, Zeppelin raid on, X27 
Nurnberg, 15, 296, 305 

Oldenburg, 13, 195, 321, 323, 323 

in Skagerrak Battle, 161 
Ophelia, hospital ship, capture of, 61 
Orkney Islands, examination base in, 91, 

Ostend, as seaplane base, sot 

British attack on, 339 
Ostfn'esland, 13, 195 

In Skagerrak Battle, 137, 158, 161, 
166, 175 
Otranto, at Coronel, 67 

PaUada, sinking of, 59 
Partridge, sinking of, 313 
Pass of Salmaha, 92 

Passenger ships, justification for sinking 
of, 2x8 

Orders to U-boais not to sink, 233 

President Wilson and, 349 
Pathfinder, sinking of, 58 

Payer, Vice-Chancellor von, Armistice 
and, 351 

Peace proposals, 347, 348 
of 1916, 195, 249 

Pegasus, sunk by Kdnigsberg, 58 

PelUw, 313 

PftU, 14 

Philipp, Rear-Admiral, Chief of Air Ser- 
vice, 20X 

PiUau, in Skagerrak Baitle, 138, 151, x66, 

Pohl, Admiral, appointed Commander-in- 
Chief, 87 

Death of, 94 

Strategy of, 88, 89 

U-boat campaign, and, 222, 224, 226, 

230, 233 
Pola, Evacuation of, 347 
U-boat base at, 253 
U-boats overhauled at, 260 
Pommern, 13 

Sinking of, 162, 187, 195 
Posen, 13, X9S, 301 

In Skagerrak Battle, 137, 162 
Preussen, Flagship, Squadron II, 8, 13, 

Princess Royal, in Dogger Baixk action. 
85 (note) 
In Skagerrak Battle, 142 
PrinM Adalbert, 135 
PrinB EiteUFriedrick, 234 
PrinM Heinrick, 69, X35 (note) 
Pringregent Luitfold, 7, 13, 74, X96, 292, 

Protective Zone in Germaa Bight, 28 

"Q "-boats, 262 

« Q " 12, Capture of Commander of, 285 

Queen, sixiking of, 188 

Queen Eligabetk, in Skagerrak Battle, 

i43» »47. 148 
<' Queen Elizabeth " dass, in Skagerrak 

Battle, 142, 144, 146, X47, 148, 151, 

153. «S4, 156 
Superiority over German ships, of, 97, 

Queen Mary, in Skagerrak Battle, 142, 

Ramsay sunk by Meteor, 89 
Regensburg, in Skagerrak Battle, 138, 

140, X43, 163, x66 
Reichstag Resolution, influence of, 36X 














Reserve Fleet, 15 

Renter, Commodore von, 137, 160 

Rear-Admiral, 296, 304, 307 
RkeifUand, 13, 195, 301 

Runs ashore, 302 
Riga, Gulf of, Russian minefields in, 91 

engagement in, 92, 295, et stq, 
Roon, 69, Z35 (note) 
Rosenberg, Commander von, U>boat 

flotilla of, 263, 296, 298 
Rosenberg Flotilla, 297, 299 
Rostock, 14, 42, 77, 127, 128 

In Skagerrak Battle, 138, 140, 160, 
162, 167 
Russian Fleet, and Baltic, 10, 20 

Retires to Kronstadt, 302 

Santa Elena, as seaplane carrier, 201 
Satow, Rt. Hon. Sir £., on minelaying 

in open sea, Z07 
Scapa Flow, English ships leave, 141 
sinking of Fleet at, 358 
U-boats off, 136, 14 1 
Scarborough, bombardment of, 68, et seq. 
Scharnhorst, 15 

at Coronet, 67 
Schaer, Admiral, appointed Chief of Naval 
Staff, 324, 33a, 333 ; Commander-in- 
Chief, 94; to Squadron III, 74 
as Commander of Squadron II, 6, 

at General Headquarters, 333 — ^337 
at Skagerrak Battle, 136 
in command in Baltic, 9 
on lessons of Skagerrak, 1 76-77 
Prince Max of Baden and, 349, 350 
report on Skagerrak, z68-i73 
unrestricted U-boat warfare and, xio, 
178, 230 
Scheldt, English warships off, 127, 128, 

SchiHig Roads, battle-cruisers in, 103 
ScJdesitn, 8, 13 
SckUswig'Holstein, 13 
Schmidt, Vice- Admiral Ehrhard, 15, 90, 

137, 158, 195, 296, 298 
Schrdder, Admiral von, in command in 

Flanders, 338, 345 
Schulxe, Captain, Commander of *' L II," 


Schfitt-Lang airships, 203, 210 
Sea Power, England's abuse of, is, ziii 
Germany and, 18 

Seaplane bases, 201 

Seaplanes, as protection for mine- 
sweepers, 20X 
as scouts, 2ZI 

Sebastopol, German dockyard at, 347 

Serbia, Austrian ultimatum to, 8 

Seydliit, 14, 38, 136, 175 
in attack on East Coast, 70 
in Dogger Bank action, 77 et seq. 
in Skagerrak Battle, 138, 166, 169, 175 
mined in attack on Yarmouth, 126, 127, 

"9» 134 
Sierra Veniana, hospital ship, 176 
Sirius, at Ostend, 339 
Skagerrak, Battle of, 133 et seq. 

Admiral Scheer's report on, 168-173 

comparative losses at, 162, 167, 168, 177 

cruiser engagement in, 141 et seq, 

hailed as victory, 174, 175, 177 

lessons of, 176-7 

night movements in, 159-164 

second phase of, 145-49 

ships engaged in, 137-140 

situation on June i, 164 

third phase of, 149-158 
Slava, sinking of, 92, 299, 300 
Solf, Dr., Armistice and, 351 
Souchon, Vice-Admiral, 296, 304, 356 
Southampton, at Kiel 1914, 3 
Spain, claim against Germany of, 338 
Spee, Count, Commander of cruiser 
squadron, 15 

and Coronel, 66 
Squadron I, composition of, 9, 13 

in expedition against Sunderland, 180 

in Skagerrak Battle, 140, 145, 147, 159, 
x6o, 161, 162, 172 
Squadron II, Admiral Scheer in command 
of, 6, 13 

Admiral Funke in command of, 74 

Admiral Mauve, in command of, 133 

as fighting force, 133 

based in Elbe, 197 

for Baltic service, 9 

in Altenbruch Roads, 26 

in Skagerrak Battle, 140, 145, 147, 156, 
159, x6o, x6i, 172 

preparation for active service of, 31-32 

raids on East Coast, 69, 70 

refitment of, 64 

unfitness of, 187, 195 
Squadron III, additions to, 73, 90 

Admiral Scheer in command of, 74 




1*^1-.*. ^^^v^ 


Squadron III, compodtioo of, 7, 13 
in Baltic, 75, 76; in 1917, 197, 300 
in Elbe, 91 
in expedition against Sunderland, 

in Skagerrak Battle, 140, 143 (note), 

H5f M7. m8, t55i «59t «6i, 166 

mutiny in, 356 

refitment of, 94, 134 

•aik lor North Sea, 9, 76 

stranding of '' U so " and, 19a 
Squadron IV, disbandment of, 195 

formation and composition, 15 

in Baltic, 90, S97 (1917) 
Squadron V, disbandment of, 195 

formation and composition of, 15 
Squadron VI, disbandment of, 195 

formation and composition of, 15, 16 
Suain, 35, 43, 45, 46, 48, 53, 69 

in Skagerrak Battle, 138 
Siralsund, 14, 4s, 44, 45, 55, 71, 72, 77, 

7«» «34 
Strassburg, 14, 4a, 45, 53, 69, 77, 296, 300, 

Strasser, Captain, Coomumder of Air- 
ships, 123, S08, 210 
death of, an 

Ordre pour le M^rite, for, 209 
Strong bow, sinking of, 310 
Stuttgart, 42 

as seaplane carrier, 201 
in Skagerrak Battle, 138 
Submarines, English, at Skagerrak, 166 
in Baltic, 66 
in German Bight, 27, 38, 39, 4a, 74, 

75, 100, loi, 130 
in Heligoland Bight, 42, 44, 62 
protection against, 27 
Sunderland, expedition against, 134 
€t seq, 

projected expedition against, 180' 

et seq, 
2^ppelin raid on, lao-i 
Supreme Army Command, abandonment 

of Flanders, and, 344 
Armistice and, 343, 344, 345 
evacuation of occupied territory and, 

increase of U-boats and, 335, 336 

Sussex, American protest at sinking of, 

130, 242 

Sylt, difficult navigation of channel at. 




Tactics^ infliMDoe 00 dnp-cGostmction 

of, t8 
Taphen, Rear-Admiral, 13 
TerscheHing Bank, U-boats ofi, 136 
Thames cstnary, U«boats off, 37 
" Test trips," 304 
The Gxaod Fleet, 1914*16," by Admiral 

Visooont Jelliooe, 24, 17a {note) 
The Infloanoe d Sea Poiver Upon His- 
tory," by Captftin Mahan, ix 
'* The Skagerrak Gift," 175 
The Times, article on Lmsitama in, 232 
Theseus, 91 
ThUringen, 13, 195 

in Skagerrak Batds, 161 
Tieae, Captain, oommander of Greif, 112 
Tiger, in Skagerrak Battle, 142 
Tirphs, Gntad Admiral von, dismissal 
of, 117 
position with regard to fleet of, 17, 93, 

3^6, 3*7 
U4xiat vnarfare and, 226 
viai« to High Seas Fleet, no 
Tottdern, as Zeppelin base, S07 

British attack on hangars at, 118 

Tonnage, sank by U-boats, 257, 261, 335 

Torpedo4>oats, action off Dogger Bank 

of, 107 

as submarine chasers, toi, 184, 187 

in Shager2«k Battle, 138-9, 1441 i4S* 

i47i »49. «S«» »53. «54 »S6, I57. 
159, 160, 163, 172 

prise crews and, 134 

protection to mine-sweepeia and, sot 
Torpedo-nets, disadvantages of, 174 
Torpedo training, 74 
Torpedoes, for submarines, 259 

types of, 340 
Training, German methods of, 14 
Transports and U-bo«ts, 331, 332 
Trotha, Rear-Admiral von, 95, 136, 245 
Turkey, and Goebem, 346, 347 
Tyne, minefield off, 43 

Zeppelin raid on, 120, 121 
Tysxloa, Commander von, 320 

Rear-Admiral, 333 


U 9," sinks Cressy, Aboukir 
Jffogug, 58 
<< U ao," sinks LuHtmnia, 193 

stranding of, 191 
<' U 21," sinks Paihfknder, 58 
'* U 22," success of. Ill 








U 24 '* sinks Arabic, a^ 
U 26," sinks PaUada, 59 
V ag,** sinks ffamki, 91 
U 50,*' stunduig of, 191 
U 53," operstioos off U.S.A.» 264-7 
iFessels sank by, 266 
U-boat campaign, abaadooment ol, 352, 

armistice and, 345, 349, 351, 352 

as means of winning ithe vna, 360, 361 

as political qaestioa, 224 

defence of, 215 et seq. 

Neutral shipping and, 225, 227 
U-boat Office, establishment of, 328, 335 
U-boat wnrfsie, Hindeoborg and Luden- 
dorff and, 190, 194, 337 ^^ 

necessity of, 190 

restricted, 91, 92, 93, 97, 103, 104, 129, 
130, X90, 196; failure of, 233; im- 
portance of, 198 ; objects of, 98 ; re- 
sults of, 234, 257, 334 

unrestricted, 87; comsMoccment ol, 
III, 230; effects of, 234-257; failure 
of, 253 ; finsl decisions on, 105, 239, 
248; German Emperor sanctions, 
no; influence on Fleet of, 199, 328; 
reversal of policy of, 108; Scbeer 
on, 178 

sigsag poHcy on, 245-46 
U-boats, adiieyemeots of, 25, 257, 261 

adTantsiges of, 36, 230-x, 257 

and Heligoland, 34 

ajrmament of, 260, 261 

oomvoys for, 262 

English frarships and, 34, 35» '83 

extended cruises of, 63, 261, 264-6 

failure of, against English Navy, 103 

first long cruise of, 35 

first losses of, 35 

fleet drained of officers for, 195, 202, 

in attack on Lowestoft, 124 

in Mediterranean, 190, 233, 243, 259, 
260^ 261, 262, 347 

losses of, 35, 91, 263, 340 

methods of, 259 et seq, 

methods of defence against, 262 

minimum of new boats required, 324-5 

numbers employed, 257, 259, 263 

off Englidi coast, 38, 167, 179, 196 

organisation of, 263, 337 

overhauling and repair of, s6o 

torpedo capacity of, 259 

U-boats, training schod for crews of, 

types of, 259 

usa with Fleet of, 104 

voo Ingenohl on, 39 
U-B-boats, characteristics of, 260 
U-C-boats, capacity of, 260 

mine carrying oapacity of, 288 
U-cruisers, oapacity of, 261, 332 
V-Deutsekland, 261 
U-minelayers, 200 
" U-Z " boats, 287 
Undaunted, collision with Cleofatra, 119 

destroys minelayers, 61 

" V 4," sinking of, 162 
<* V 27,*' sunk at Skagerrak, 144 
"V 29,'' sunk at Skagerrak, 144 
'* V 48,** sunk at Skagerrak, 155 
•• V i87,*' sinking of, 45, 46, 47^ 
Valiant, in Skagerrak Battle, 143 (note) 
Viktoria Lnise, as training-ship, 15 
Vindictive, at Zeebrogge, 339 
Vineta, as training-ship, 15 

V^^i*' 347 

Von der Tann, 14, 38, 77 

in attack on Scarborough, 70 

in Skagerrak Battle, 138, 142 

Wanouoog, destruction of church at, 50 
War, as test for German nation, 362 

opening days of, 26 et seq, 

origin of, ix 

outbreak of, 10 

why we lost the, 362 
War orders to High Sea Fleet, 25 
War Zone, declaration by England of, 

declaration by Germany of, 225, 226, 
Warrender, Vice-Admiral Sir George, 72 
Warrior, sinking of, 153, 155 
Warspite, in Skagerrak Battle, 143 [note), 

Weddigen, Lieut. -Commander Otto, 
attacks Theseus, 91 

sinks Cressy, Aboukir and Hogue, 58 

sinks Hawke, 91 
Westbum, 112 
West/alen, 13, 195 

in Skagerrak Battle, 161 

torpedoing of, i8t, 182, 185, 301 
"Wet Triangle,** The, 21 



Weiiin, 15 

Whitby^ bombardnMDt of, 70 
Zeppelin raid on, 122, 123 
White Sea, mindaying U-boats for, 360 
H iesbaden in Skagerrak Battle, 137, 

^l^t 155. 156 
Wilfred, sinking of, 27 

Wilhelmsbaven as Headquarters of North 

Sea Naval Stations, 30 

as Naval base, 4, 100 

Fleet at, 1914, 9 

repairs of V-boats at, 260 
Wilson, President, 255 

Armistice proposals to, 355 

•* Fourteen Points '* of, 350 

German Peace Note to, 344, 347, 348 

on U-l>oat campaign, 349 

passenger ships, and, 349, 353 

reply of, 354 
Wireless *' directional stations,*' 73 
Wireless telegraphy, advantages of, 28, 

WitUUbach, 15 

Wittmundshaven, Zeppelin base at, 207 

Wolf, 194 

Yas MOUTH, cruiser raid on, 66, 124 

Yarmonth, Zeppelin raid on, 124 
YarrowdaLe, 281 
Yorck, sinking of, 66 

ZsntUGGE, as seaplane base, 201 

as torpedo-boat base, 187, 188, 189, 

a8i, 3r8 
as U-boat base, 253, 260, 339 
attack on, 339 
evacuation of, 346 
Zeppelin raids, 92, 94, 105, 113 «/ ^'f., 

119, 120, 121, 122, 123, 124, 127, 

129, 179, 20S €t teq, 
effects on British public of, six 
objectives of, 207 
success of defensive measures against, 

129, 179 
Ze{^»dins, armament of, 204 

as scouts, 30, 13s, 141, 164, 182, 185. 

197, 204 
bases of, 207 

construction of, 203 et seq, 
devdopment of, 203 tt seq. 
future of, 212 
hangars for, 207 
increase of, 203 
losses of, 203, 208, 210-11 
navigation of, 305-6 








PsufTBo BT Casull & CoMPAMT. LmiTBo, La Bbllb Sauyacb, LoNDOli, E.C.4 











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